GREENSBURG — When one speaks with the many members of the recovery community in Greensburg, one realizes that there are several components to rebuilding a life during and after recovery — if there is ever truly a point at which an addict is fully “recovered.”
For an addict, the road back is as bumpy as was the road to addiction. And the methodology of addiction, the drug of choice, the manner of delivery, are all as varied as are the victims of what seems to be a universal affliction.
There are a few parallels running through most of the stories, but one of the most common threads to recovery stories is “giving back.”
“Giving back takes my ego out of the equation” said Director of Greensburg TLC Billy Austin. “All that time as an addict, all I thought about was feeding my craving. Addiction is very egotistical. All an addict cares about is where he’s going to get his next fix, his next drink, or his next hit. That’s all. So giving back — to the family, to the community, whatever needs be — is a change, a way of taking the ego out of it.”
“About 15 years ago, Matt started struggling with recovery, and about 10 years ago he got serious with that struggle. About two years ago, we started talking about giving back, because recovery is about giving back,” said Matt’s mother and Foundations Executive Director Ginny Whipple.
“I was a chameleon who could get along with the athletes and I was also a drummer in a metal band for a lot of years, so I wore a lot of different hats,” Matt said. “I had an older brother who was the cool kid, but I never felt like I fit in anywhere, and that’s where my drug use started. I drank and smoked pot at an early age, but started with prescription drugs out of curiosity. Everyone was doing it, and it looked like fun. My motto was ‘I’ll try anything once.’ I’m not sure I believe in an addictive personality, but my drug use was very compulsive. When I really got into the drugs, I would shoot-up anything I could find for a number of years.”
Matt, now 37, became addicted to prescription pain medications while in college at Eastern Kentucky University.
“That’s what I brought back from college in 2000. Instead of an education, I got an addiction” Whipple said. “I remember working out at Harris City Stone Quarry. We had two truck drivers, and one truck would load and unload, and the other one would sit and wait. I was so messed up on drugs that, when I came to, I had dumped a load of stone down the side and in the cab of the parked truck. It’s amazing that the other guy wasn’t in the cab of the truck at that time. ... I didn’t know where I was or how I got there, it was that bad, but I realized at that point that something had to give.”
The problem, he said, was the he didn’t know how to stop, so he had to ask for help.
His parents were on vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia, at the time, and Matt called them with a pistol in his hand. He said he didn’t want to go on anymore and needed help, so his sister-in-law took him to Fairbanks Recovery Clinic in Indianapolis.
After Fairbanks, Matt spent time at Laverna Lodge, a recovery program in Indianapolis.
“When I was there, I kept hearing from my friends they were planning to go back home and live with their mom and dad. I knew that wasn’t going to work for them,” Matt said. “So, after a relocation, a failed marriage, and a lot of ups and downs, I got sober again in January of 2017. Once I did that, I got back involved with a church.”
Waynesburg Christian Church Pastor David Burnett introduced Matt to the prison ministry REC — Residents Encountering Christ — the same program Decatur County Sheriff Dave Durant recently brought to the local jail.
“I was lucky that I had a caring and supportive family, but so many don’t,” Matt said. “During that time, I learned that there are virtually no group residences for recovering addicts in areas like this. So I mentioned that to my mother and told her that I felt led to start a recovery house.”
“This story has lots of God things in it. It’s amazing. I had it on my heart for a long time to build a recovery house,” Ginny said.
Matt’s mother ran with the idea, and before he knew it she had set up a not-for-profit organization.
Both Matt and Ginny agree that the coincidences occurring at that time, too many to mention here, were amazing.
“It’s as if everything from buying this house right up to the grant monies we used to put a down payment on it were God things,” Ginny said.
Ginny Whipple and God Things
Christians have an interesting lingo, as do many other societies or groups of people sharing something in common. According to www.urbandictionary.com, a God thing is a term used by some Christians or other theists to describe seemingly communicative or serendipitous coincidences caused by divine intervention.
“So much of this has been a God thing. It’s amazing,” Ginny said of Matt’s recovery and the events leading up to the recently opened Foundations for Recovery.
Ginny Whipple is the Bartholomew County Assessor, sworn into office in January of this year. By her own confession, she is a “large-and-in-charge” kind of woman.
But she admits that belief is of utmost importance to her.
“Everything about Matt’s recovery has been a God thing,” she said. “The opening of this house has been a miracle in and of itself for me and my attitude about life. The attitude toward people’s addiction, I didn’t have much sympathy for their stories. I am in recovery as well, and still I had no sympathy for them, especially for those who sank all the way, because I’ve never sunk so low as some of the guys staying here have. But seeing what this place is doing for these guys, and through these guys, it’s changed my life. You’ve got to let go and let-God!”
Matt said one of the biggest things about his recovery was realizing that it’s not all about him, and that recovery requires paying it forward.
“When [you] get to the point I’m at, you turn it around and help someone else, you give it back. That’s what it’s all about,” he said.
Foundations for Recovery’s second annual chicken fry fundraiser is scheduled for Sept. 28 at Lifeline Wesleyan Church, 2002 Moscow Road, Greensburg. Fellowship and activities begin at 2 p.m., with a chicken dinner (for a suggested donation of $10) starting at 5 p.m.
Foundations of Recovery is a 501©3 not-for-profit and welcomes all donations and love offerings.
As a reminder, Decatur County citizens are invited to a free program featuring information and discussion about the culture surrounding alcohol, tobacco and the use of other drugs. The program is being held in the Greensburg High School auditorium and features Nigel Wrangham, a longtime expert in the field of substance abuse. It is sponsored by Greensburg Community Schools, Decatur County Community Schools, the Greensburg Prevention Group and other local partners.