High on Hope Provides Addiction Training Course
As is well-known to many, the drug epidemic has had a wide-spread impact on much of Tyler country. However, West Virginia as a whole has seen the brunt of it, with many communities seeing the affects of the addiction problem daily. This was the reason that inspired and prompted Tim Craft to begin holding training courses in communities all over the state to teach local, everyday people about the effects of addiction and to equip them on how to better help with the issue.
Craft is the founder of High on Hope Ministries, a faith-based outreach ministry which offers assistance to those struggling with addiction. High on Hope is based out of Parkersburg, West Virginia, and has been in operation for the past three years. The ministry’s assistance takes many forms including treatment placement, and holding events such as the Movement – an outdoor rally that’s been held for the past three years in Parkersburg.
It was in March of 2019 that the idea of addiction training courses was first conceived. Craft explained that this vision was a result of the vast amount of people placed in detox, which was more than 50 people in that month alone. Craft said that if they could have placed that amount of individuals where they could receive the help they needed, than it would be wise to have training for them to start recovery.
The first addiction training course, called Equip the City, was held in the Warehouse Church in Parkersburg, with the goal of equipping the community with the know-how, to help a person struggling through addiction. Craft said there was an overwhelming response seen from that first course, with seven people being placed in detox as a direct result of the event. The success of the course prompted High on Hope with the desire to hold similar courses throughout the state of West Virginia.
Since the first Equip the City event, High on Hope has held classes in Wood, Summers, Wirt, and Jackson counties. The most recent course was held at Tyler Consolidated High School on Friday, February 21. During this meeting, Craft and his team passed out a resource list of detox centers and their information, which will cover the needs of anyone suffering from addiction, whether they have no insurance, West Virginia Medicaid, Ohio Medicaid, or private insurance. The audience also had the opportunity to hear from former addicts and participate in a question-and-answer panel comprised of local officials.
Beginning the meeting, Craft shared his story of deliverance from addiction.
Craft, originally from Beckley, West Virginia, explained that he “quickly became addicted to drugs,” by first starting with prescription pills. It was after this that his addiction began to spiral when he started to use heroin, and became “sold out to addiction.”
Craft recalled a pivotal and heavy moment in his life that occurred on April 6 of 2013 when he was informed that his younger sister Brandi would not wake up. After rushing to her home, he found that she had accidentally overdosed. Craft conveyed that this moment was “so heavy” because when one is so deep in their addiction, they think that a situation such as this can’t ever occur.
However, at that moment he had a realization that their decisions and their actions brought them to that point. Craft said that in his addicted state of mind, all he could think of was he needed to get high to deal with it.
Craft fell deeper into his addiction following his sister’s death, leaving him feeling isolated and with no way out of the situation. In February, Craft used his income tax to reserve a hotel room before purchasing a large amount of drugs. He began to “shoot the pain away,” explaining that he was doing more drugs than he ever had before, feeling like there was a heavy weight on his shoulders.
That night Craft overdosed. However, he happened to pass out on the bed with his back against the wall, which he claimed saved his life.
It wasn’t long after this that Craft said a friend came and begged him to leave in order to save his life from drugs. ” He told me I would die if I didn’t,” Craft said, Craft eventually went with his friend, and on March 1, of 2014, while withdrawing from heroin, he cried out to God for help saying, “God, I don’t even know if you’re real. If you are, please tell me because I don’t know what to do.”
In that moment, Craft said he felt something that he has never experienced in his whole life, and began to understand that everything he was searching for was right there. “I became captivated, sold out…addicted to this presence that I felt, and I wanted to find out more about it,” Craft conveyed.
Later, Craft entered a one year discipleship program called Eddie James Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia, which he described as the greatest experience in his life. Upon completing the program, Craft became director of the program before being transferred to Parkersburg. He ran a program there for four years. A year later, he began High on Hope Ministries.
In regards to addiction, Craft said, “I’m so sold out to the belief that Jesus Christ is the answer to this problem, and the reason I will never waiver from that is because in my hopeless state, he saved me. I know if he can do it for me, there’s not a person he won’t do it for.”
Looking back on his story, Craft noted, “A lot of times…when we see someone is addicted to drugs, we automatically assume they have a dysfunction.”
“Something that I have learned throughout this process is that Jesus actually gave me this gift to be sold out to something. When we can begin to teach people how to properly use the gift that God places inside of them it’s a very powerful thing. I can run with the purpose he placed in my life with the same tenacity and the same drive that I used for drugs,” added Craft.
Craft went on to say that during his addiction, he was searching for all the right things such as joy, peace, and rest, but was looking in the wrong places. However, Craft explained that our job is to help addicts shift fromthat kind of focus and teach others to look in the correct places.
Following this, Craft walked those in attendance through a five step process of what to do in order to “equip the city to tackle the drug issue.” This process is as follows:
Step One: Make initial contact with the person
Craft advised people to simply listen when speaking with an addicted individual, because they often feel disconnected, worthless, and like nobody wants to hear what they have to say. He also said that such individuals should be treated with a level of honor they might not be used to. “Instead of focusing on what they aren’t, focus on the value they have inside of them…because whatever you focus on the most will be magnified and whatever is magnified will ultimately rule their life.”
After speaking with them and learning what’s going on in their life, ask the individual if they’re willing to get help. Craft explained that there must be some sort of agreement as High on Hope does not work with any lockdown facilities. However, Craft stressed that this does not mean that one helping can’t talk them into it.
Craft’s advice is to sit down and reason with them – magnify why they should get help.
Basic information such as their name, date of birth, drug of choice, and insurance information should be gathered during this time.
Step Two: Get them into detox
According to Craft, 99 percent of the time, an addicted individual will need detox. Transportation will need to be set up for this. Craft mentioned that many churches have vans, and would be the perfect hub to transport people to detox and treatment, and disciple them once they return. However, Craft said that those offering assistance can always be creative in their thinking and find ways to make it happen.
Some detox centers include the following: Northwoods New Martinsville (WV Medicaid), 304-455-3622; CSU Parkersburg (WV Medicaid), 304-485-1721 Ext. 164; Rigel Detox Marietta, (OH Medicaid) 740-371-5476; and Clearview New Lexington (OH Medicaid), 740-343-6130.
Find a detox facility with an immediate opening.
Step Three: Love unconditionally
In regards to this step, Craft explained that helping people struggling with addiction will often be tough. However, he reminded the crowd that God still as a perfect plan for these individuals and that it’s our job to hold their hand and walk them through it.
“Sometimes people make poor decisions over and over, but we do not give up on them. Just because they mess up 15 times, it does not mean they won’t get it on the 16th time. So we do not give up.” Craft said, explaining that we must keep a heart posture of faith in them and their ability to overcome.
Step Four: Get them into long term treatment
This step will follow detox, and is reportedly imperative. Craft said that detox is not enough, and that even if an individual you are aiding believes they’re fine, long term treatment is necessary.
Some longterm treatment options are as follows: Lifechangers Outreach Men/Women Beckley, 865-456-2064; Recovery Point Parkersburg, 304-564-6013; Arrow Passages, Akron, Ohio (private insurance), 330-705-3283; Harmony Ridge, Parkersburg (WV Medicaid), 304-481-3727; Amity, Parkersburg (WV Medicaid), 304-485-1781; Brandi’s Legacy, (accepts pregnant), Marietta, Ohio (OH Medicaid), 304-916-8468; New Hope Creation Male, Malta (OH Medicaid), 304-483-9223; and Land of Goshen, Ironton (OH Medicaid), 304-916-8468.
Step Five: Connect them with local resources such as churches, recovery support systems, and people who will mentor them
Craft explained that this step is of great importance as they will need to be discipled. In addition to this, years of addiction means that an individual will often have to start from scratch. They will sometimes need a safe home environment as well as assistance in getting items such as a license.
Craft explained that this is where the community can play the biggest role in order to set up programs to help recovering addicts. Craft mentioned that there is a large lack in sober transitional living, which is reportedly an area High on Hope is looking at stepping into.
“We can teach them all day in a controlled environment, but when we put them in the real world they still need some boundaries in place; they still need people to keep themselves accountable, and they need something to give themselves to.” Craft expressed. He further explained that he has found that when recovering addicts have something to dedicate themselves to beyond their job, something that’s bigger than them, it has a large impact.
Following these steps, Craft stressed that while the people who have the biggest impact on drug addicts is former addicts, it does not mean that one who has never experienced this can not have a “profound affect on people’s life.”
Craft also added that the most important thing that Eddie James Ministries taught him was that the goal is not simply to get people sober, but for them to be free. “The byproduct of freedom is sobriety.” he explained.
Additionally, Craft warned those in attendance that they have to be willing to be uncomfortable. “I’ve never gotten a convenient call to go help someone addicted to drugs. There’s never a convenient time.”
Addressing those struggling with addiction or families members of those addicted, Craft said, “No matter what pain you’ve went through, no matter what has happened in the past, no matter what situation you’re in, your circumstances don’t dictate what your future looks like.”
Immediately following this, Craft invited his wife Abby to share her deliverance story, wherein she explained that she became addicted to heroin by the age of 17 and attended rehab at 18 years of age for the first time. Abby told the audience that during her addiction she got into a lot of criminal trouble, leaving her with many felony convictions and eventually a sentence in prison. It was there that she made up her mind to do whatever it takes to never go back. While in prison, she was saved and became sober. This year, Abby celebrates five years of sobriety.
“Rehab didn’t work for me.” Abby expressed. “Going to prison, for me, saved my life.”
Carla Patton then took to the stage to share her story. Patton’s daughter went through a 14 year addiction, and Patton shared her perspective on this situation and the hope she had in her daughter’s recovery and deliverance. Patton’s daughter is now free from addiction and serves as a substance abuse counselor at Brandi’s Legacy, is an administrator with High On Hope, and is on the worship team at her church.
After these stories, a group of individuals joined Craft in forming a panel where audience questions could be answered. Included in this panel was: Abby Craft with High on Hope; a representative with Life Changers; Tyler County Sheriff Brian Weigle; Brooke Albright with the Attorney General’s Office; Tyler County Prosecuting Attorney Luke Furbee; Sandy Hayes, who lost her son to addiction three years ago; minister Sandra Walker; a representative with Set Free Ministry and Community Recovery Center in Parkersburg; and an individual who runs a sober living home in Weirton.
The following questions were some answered by the panel:
How does a family open their home as a sober living home?
Craft began by explaining that how many people you have determines whether or not it has to be zoned as a group home. It was his belief that as long as there were under 12 people, a home could simply be rented. The individual who runs a sober living home in Weirton expanded on this by saying that there are certain rules and regulations that one is required to follow. He explained that the health department, fire marshal, and city inspectors would all need to be involved as they will tell you how big the home has to be and how many beds you will be allowed. He said that it doesn’t necessarily need to be an LLC or a business, but an individual would need to apply for a permit.
How long does normal treatment and detox take?
Abby Craft explained that normal detox lasts between five and ten days, depending on the substance that was being used. Long term treatment in Ohio, funded by Medicaid, is anywhere between four to six months. In West Virginia with Medicaid, they will only pay for 28 to 45 days. However there are programs such as Life Changers that are free, and these typically last 12 months.
If you don’t have insurance, is there still help and hope?
The representative with Life Changers said there are free programs.
What ages can children go with their mothers in Brandi’s Legacy, and will children be able to go to transitional living?
Craft explained that they will accept toddler age and down at Brandi’s Legacy, and that children will be allowed in transitional living.
Is there support for family members of addicts?
Many individuals on the panel spoke up on programs offered for families including 12 step faith-based small groups with Set Free Ministries, groups in the Community Recovery Center in Parkersburg and Marietta, and Thursday night classes for all ages with High On Hope.
Has there been an increase or decrease in overdoses in area?
Sheriff Weigle said that, unfortunately, they have seen an increase. Weigle explained that the Sheriff’s Office is involved in the QRT program, and stressed that they would much rather help people than arrest them.
What is the Prosecutor’s Office doing to help change the addiction problem?
“Unfortunately, we get involved after the fact, after the damage has been done, and the crimes have been committed. We’re the last stop in that process.” Furbee responded. He said that they often see cases like Abby Craft, but that they are “evolving.” Furbee spoke on the drug court treatment program, saying that this is the biggest step the court system has taken in the last several years. He expanded on this by explaining that they have the third most participants in this circuit, with several being from Tyler County. Furbee also said that they work on trying to identify people in the court system who are addicts, getting them assistance they need as part of their bond restrictions, and testing them while on bond in order to offer oversight.
“It’s changing. It doesn’t negate criminal activity – that has to be addressed when that occurs – but the approach we are taking is changing. We’re not going to imprison our way out of this problem.” Furbee said.
What is the Attorney General’s office doing to help addiction problem?
Albright explained that their office handles this in a two step approach. The first approach is handled through the Consumer Protection division, and they file lawsuits against companies they feel have taken part in hurting consumers. The second step is an education approach where they work on educating students in schools, as well as adults in the community. Albright explained that they work continuously on increasing outreach and education initiatives.
What are some things the state can do to better tackle this problem?
Albright said that it doesn’t always start at the state level, but often needs to begin at a local perspective. “We need to try to empower the local communities to get involved in local coalitions…then it will grow.”
Craft closed out the course by encouraging all in attendance that even when it seems like nothing is happening, to keep going. In regards to the course, he said, “I think tonight was successful. I feel like the community really showed up in a great way, and I do feel that when people leave here they will have left better than when they came. So I think the goal was hit and we did what we came to do. I feel good about it.”