Kia's Story: God Turned My Drug-Addiction Tests into Testimony
Drug abuse is one of the most common types of addiction in America. According to the U.S. government’s 2016 National Survey on Drug Use, 45 percent of all Americans over the age of 12 — almost half the population — take prescription pain relievers, tranquilizers, sedatives or stimulants. And 16 percent of the time, those drugs are misused by nearly 19 million Americans. The study says many people who are now addicted to opioids started out with legitimate prescriptions for pain relief and then became addicted.
That’s what happened to Kia Waller of New Castle, Pennsylvania. Her addiction started with Percocet painkillers that a pain-clinic doctor prescribed for her after she was in an automobile accident. Then she tried just about every other drug and became, in her words, “a garbage can.” Long-term treatment in an in-patient recovery program finally ended her 10-year addiction.
Kia hit an all-time low when her husband kicked her out of the house. Now she has recovered and has regained the trust of her family. She works as a Certified Recovery Specialist, guiding women through recovery from addiction and advising parents whose children are addicted to drugs.
What brought me to my knees was crack cocaine. It comes straight from hell. Toward the end, I was using opiates, benzos, alcohol, crack cocaine and finally heroin because it’s cheaper. I ended up being arrested on drug charges a couple of times because like a lot of people, I was stealing to buy drugs. I would be on probation and try to get clean. I would go to twelve-step meetings and had every intention of quitting. But I would use again and fail my urine test, so I would get thrown in jail again.
As my addiction got worse, my actions became terrible. Between 2007 and 2013, I went to rehab eight times that I can remember. I kind of lost count after eight. And then I landed in prison. I have gone through four and a half years with no mood-altering substances.
God poured His grace upon me because many times, I should have been dead. I overdosed twice. Many times, the devil was whispering in my ear, encouraging me to kill myself. Growing up, I knew that’s something you don’t do. I was putting myself in dangerous situations and disrespecting my body. I know for a fact that God was shielding me the whole time.
The Best Husband Anyone Could Have
My husband and I were high-school sweethearts. We met when I was fourteen, and we got married when I was twenty-three. I am now thirty-nine years old. We have three daughters who are 23, 16 and 13. We also have a seven-year-old grandson and a granddaughter who is a year old.
For 10 of our years together, I put that man through more than any person should have to endure. The last two years were absolutely terrible. I thank God for him because I never had to worry about my kids being in the foster-care system or not being taken care of. He unknowingly enabled me for years because of his strong love for me.
He really tried, though. He tried being mean to me, and he tried being super nice. He tried just ignoring me. None of that worked. But toward the end, what did it was totally turning his back on me. He was loving me but fighting my addiction. So toward the end, I was totally alone. He took the kids and moved out of the house we had lived in as a family for seven years. He did what he had to do to protect our children and to protect his heart because he was tired of getting it broken. There was a time when he had to sleep with his wallet in his pillowcase. And there was no way I was getting that bank information because he knew I would go clean out the account.
On My Last Night of Using, I Called Out to God
I will never forget my last night of using. I choose to not forget it because I think that’s one of the things that helps me stay on the right path. That last week, I was homeless. I was going days without showers. I had absolutely nobody. I had track marks all up and down my arms from the needle, and my left arm went totally numb for two days. I couldn’t feel it. I didn’t know if I had hit a nerve or what, but I was scared to go the hospital.
I was on the run from probation officers. It was 90 degrees in August, and I was walking around in a hooded jacket, scared the police were going to see me. I was no longer welcome in my husband’s new home, so I couldn’t see my children. Toward the end, I was not welcome in my mother’s home, either. I was staying in trap houses, which are drug houses. There was no furniture in the one house I was staying in. It was infested with roaches and filthy.
On my last night of using, I broke into the vacant house that used to be our home. It was boarded up because the landlord was in Ecuador. I was sitting in what used to be my bedroom, alone. It was dark because there was no electricity. What was playing through my mind was something my husband had told me for years: “One day you’re going to look up, and we’re all going to be gone.” I sat there on the floor, rocking back and forth, sobbing. I couldn’t stop.
I got up on my knees and raised my hands. I was wailing, sobbing and crying out loud for God to please help me. I prayed, “I don’t care what, and I don’t care how, but please help me, God. I can’t do this anymore.” Less than ten hours later, I was in jail.
When I walked in those doors to the county jail, I felt a sigh of relief. I could breathe because I knew that there was no way for me to get to any drugs, at least not right away. I didn’t have to be scared anymore. I didn’t have to put anything in me anymore. I made up my mind at that moment that that was it — I was done.
A Prison Recovery Program Changed My Life
After I spent a couple of months in the county jail, I ended up in Muncie State Prison for seven months. The prison has a program called Journey to Freedom that follows the Narcotics Anonymous format. It is a four-month-long, very intense drug and alcohol program, and it changed my life.
During the program, I found out that deep down, my insecurities kept me from fully loving myself. I was raised by a great stepfather who adopted me when I was six. Even though my life was very good, I didn’t realize or accept the fact that my biological father, who is still alive and breathing and well today, chose not to be in my life. Also, I had to deal with the insecurity I felt as a result of my husband cheating on me early in our relationship, a long time ago. I worked on these issues during the program.
Now I am living with my husband and children again and rebuilding their trust. God has turned my tests into testimony. Along with some other people in my church, I have started a Journey to Freedom recovery ministry. I am a full-time house manager of a women’s sober living house in Youngstown, Ohio, called Gypsy House. I am helping women climb out of addiction, just like I did.
My Take on Kia’s Story
Kia’s story carries messages for those suffering from addiction, as well as for their friends and family members.
As a parent or friend of someone who suffers from a serious addiction, you might relate to Kia’s acknowledgment that friends and family members often enable a perpetuation of addictions through their well-intended love and generosity. After many attempts to reach out to help Kia, it wasn’t until her husband took the drastic and difficult step of moving out with the kids to awaken Kia to her own reality.
Over time, Kia developed a remarkable self-awareness that ultimately enabled her to realize God’s grace and fully recover from her crisis. She reached out, “wailing, sobbing and crying out loud” in desperation to God with her prayers, but she also needed the ongoing support of the Journey to Freedom prison support group.
She declares in her post-recovery ministry to others that you must surrender your all, and you can’t recover until you do. What wonderful advice for anyone reading her story who also is suffering from the crisis of addiction.
Time for Personal Reflection
- Kia says, “People continue to use [drugs] because they’re masking things that are bothering them inside, whether or not they are aware of it.” Do you have memories of traumatic experiences hidden deep in your soul, causing continued pain and suffering in your life? Ask God to help you to identify those hidden traumas and to remove the mask and hence the burden, and believe that He will do so. Feel the liberating power of His outpouring of grace.
- Are you carrying around insecurities and guilt that do not “belong” to you? Try to recognize if you are assuming the responsibility for problems that other people need to resolve. Then give it to God, surrender your all and allow Him to heal you.
. Richard Harris, “Federal Survey Finds 119 Million Americans Use Prescription Drugs,” National Public Radio, September 8, 2016, https://www.npr.org/2016/09/08/493157917/federal-survey-finds-119-million-americans-use-prescription-drugs.