Faith Helps Anthony Win Battle With Addiction – Orlando Union Rescue Mission

Faith Helps Anthony Win Battle With Addiction

 In Story

Anthony had chosen the bottle over his long-time girlfriend, Denise, for the final time. They had lived together for almost seven years, but the last few had been wrought with battles over Anthony’s growing problem with drugs and alcohol.

One night in October 2009, Anthony returned home drunk, yet again, breaking promises that he would try to get better.  With tears in her eyes and her heart in pieces, Denise knew the best way to love Anthony was to give him an ultimatum: Choose her or choose drugs.

And until he made his decision, he couldn’t come home.

Stunned and devastated, Anthony figured he would take a few days to let things cool off and then try to return home. He heard that the Orlando Union Rescue Mission had an emergency shelter for guys in need of just a few nights’ stay, so he checked in the night after Denise kicked him out.

The staff welcomed him with open arms and challenged him to turn his life around – for good. They told him about the Discipleship Program, where men learn life and work skills that help them leave behind the mistakes of the past and create hope for the future.

“That day, something clicked. I realized my addiction was robbing me of me,” Anthony said. “I thought I had to drink to be funny, to be liked. I didn’t realize that I was hurting the people who cared about me and liked me for who I was, not what drugs turned me into.”

The next day, Anthony called Denise to tell her about the program. They both agreed this might be the opportunity Anthony needed to not just say he would quit, but to develop good habits that would replace the bad ones. He moved into O.U.R. Men’s Center and started attending counseling sessions that helped him work through the issues that were driving him to use drugs and alcohol.

Part of Anthony’s addiction came from health problems that resulted in weight gain. His dependence on alcohol only made things worse. “I was up to 500 pounds when I got to the Mission – it was uncomfortable to say the least!” Anthony said.

Anthony spent a little over a year living at the Mission. The staff helped him develop a plan to become healthy enough to get back to work full-time. He was able to work on-site in the meantime, doing security and working in the kitchen – his long-time passion and former career. The staff and other men he respected at the Mission taught him how to put his trust in God for difficult circumstances. That trust took the place of Anthony’s addiction – and he’s been clean since he walked in the door that first night.

When Anthony moved out in September 2010, he had two goals: marry his girlfriend and get back to work.

“When I was at the Mission, I realized I needed to marry Denise. It was the right thing to do – she stuck by my side in the midst of everything,” he said. “And if she hadn’t kicked me out, I don’t know where I would be right now. She’s my home and I never want to lose that again.”

But the trust Anthony learned to place in God was tested soon after he left the Mission. In November 2010, Anthony got sick and ended up in a coma for a week. Even though he had moved out, the Mission staff came to visit and pray for him throughout his hospital stay. When he awoke, the doctors told him that his recovery would be a long, uphill battle. But thanks to his newfound trust in the Lord, Anthony knew he could face it, head-on, without turning to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain.

It has been an uphill battle, but the end is finally in sight. Today, he is almost at his weight loss goal and plans on returning to work by Christmas. The couple lives near the Orlando International Airport with Denise’s 20 year old son. Denise works as a CNN at Palm Gardens and Anthony is keeping his culinary skills fresh for when he is cleared to start work again.

“We are in the best place we’ve ever been,” Anthony said. “We have each other and everything we need – and we know who to thank for it.”

Anthony’s life was completely transformed during his stay at the Mission. The O.U.R. Men’s Division has about 40 disciples, like Anthony, who receive intensive Christian instruction and mentorship along with work therapy designed to develop self-discipline, work ethic and accountability. Your gift of $26.82 provides a day of life-changing care for a man in the program.

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