Note: This article is part of a series relating to local resources for addiction and recovery.
RecoverWe is a newer faith-based addict support group located in Washington Court House as a ministry of South Side Christian Church.
RecoverWe meetings are held every Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at South Side, 921 S. Fayette St. in Washington Court House. RecoverWe is overseen by local Cody Bowen.
South Side Pastor Barry Pettit explained, “We’ve been watching our community and taking a look at all the people struggling with addiction and especially with the heightening of it getting worse here year-after-year. Then when COVID hit, it really took a shot up. The staff here at the church got together and prayed, talked. I got together with Cody (Bowen), and we prayed, and we talked. We wanted to be able to get something here to support people.”
Bowen has been through his own trials with addiction and had previously gone into rehab for eight-and-a-half months. His daughters had gone into foster care as their mother was also an addict.
“Not too long after I was home (from rehab) she died. Telling my then-seven-year-old daughters that their mother was dead from drug overdose was possibly one of the hardest things I had to do in my recovery. And I vowed that I would do everything in me to keep others from having to experience that, to deal with it and go through it,” said Bowen.
Bowen and his daughters have been reunited, and he is now married with a blended family. He works while overseeing RecoverWe and being a connection to treatment for those who reach out to him.
Bowen explained that recovery isn’t just taking away an addict’s substance—taking away a substance is sobriety. Recovery is something everyone could use, he explained, as it is learning to cope with life on life’s terms—emotions, events, character defects, etc.
The education used for the RecoverWe meetings comes from the Bible and personal experience.
“I allow my own personal experiences in my own week (to determine what we speak about in meetings). When I spoke about Psalm 51, it was because something had happened in my week where I was ashamed, felt guilt and had thoughts of things I’d done in my past. I was laying face-down on my bedroom floor sobbing for a good ten minutes, and then it just came to me—I shouldn’t allow these things to diminish me as a person. I should use them to magnify who God is. That even though I did all these horrible things that my body was reminding me of, He loved me. Even when I was doing all this crap, He loved me. I still had purpose. There is so much more to my life than what I’ve done,” explained Bowen.
During other meetings, Bowen explained they ended up not discussing the lesson he prepared as people in attendance needed to talk about and share events happening in their lives. As a support group, that is part of the ministry.
“The very first word, or the very first step, of every program of recovery (that exists), is ‘we.’ ‘We came to believe,’ we, we, we, we—doesn’t matter if it’s ‘Celebrate Recovery,’ doesn’t matter if it’s ‘NA,’ doesn’t matter if it’s ‘AA.’ It doesn’t matter—the first word is ‘we,’” said Bowen. “If you google step one of 12 steps, every different program—the very first word is we. ‘We’ is the most important part of every program of recovery—it’s supposed to be. That’s a big component driven into every individual that’s sitting (in the meetings) on Sunday evenings.”
As part of the fellowship and to bring the group together under that ‘we,’ there is typically time to talk and relax prior to meetings starting. Occassionally, a meal is provided so attendees can eat together.
Some people bring their kids for the meetings. While some kids can stay for the meeting when conversations are appropriate, they can also be taken to the nursery to play. In general, attendees agreed that having their kids as part of the meetings can be beneficial as they have been affected by the situation as well, and it puts them into contact with other young individuals who may have been affected.
While Bowen tends to handle male resources, Tara Stallman assists with finding resources for women who comes to the program or reaches out to her.
“It feels good to help others and be a support system. I think that helps keep me clean too,” said Stallman.
Stallmen explained her history and story during an interview with the R-H.
“My dad was an alcohol addict. Abused my mom, me and my sister,” she explained. “I was just always ran down—like told I wasn’t going to amount to anything. When you hear those things, especially from people you love the most, you start to believe that. I was a teenager, probably about 15, when I started experimenting with pot, pain pills, and it kind of progressed to cocaine, Ecstasy, acid, shrooms and stuff like that. I got sober for a little while—my husband was in the army, we got married and moved away. I got pregnant with my oldest daughter, and I just quit everything. I didn’t know anybody there, and then we came back to Court House. Right before I got pregnant with my son, I got prescribed pain pills for a tooth (problem). Within a week, I was addicted to where I was cancelling my appointment, having them call me in more prescription—I was immediately addicted. They did it like three times and then they said, ‘you have to get that tooth fixed, we aren’t calling you in anything.’ So, that’s when I started getting them on the streets.”
The pain pills went on for a few years until she was introduced to Suboxone. Suboxone, according to www.suboxone.com, “is a prescription medicine used to treat adults who are addicted to (dependent on) opioid drugs (either prescription or illegal) as part of a complete treatment program that also includes counseling and behavioral therapy.”
“It was cheaper than the pain pills and pretty much gave me the same high and, eventually, after about a year of getting them on the streets, I went to a Suboxone doctor. I think I was at the Suboxone Doctor for four years,” said Stallman. “I thought I was doing good—that Suboxone saved my life, but really it was destroying it slowly.”
From that point on she began using harder drugs and, within three-to-four months, explained she pretty much lost everything she had—house, cars, job. Her husband ended up taking the kids and leaving.
Stallman explained about her husband: “My addiction took him down. He lost all kinds of weight, I thought he had cancer or something because he looked so bad. It destroyed all of us, not just me.”
“That’s when I went my lowest—I was miserable. I didn’t have my kids, or my husband, or my d0g. I didn’t have anything. I was staying on the streets, I was living in both of the parks (in town). I would stay back in the woods and couch surf wherever I could. I’d do anything to get it,” she explained.
At that point, she reached out to Bowen as did her mom and husband. Bowen found a treatment center for her to attend in a different area and took her there.
“I never had any kind of belief in God and, when I was staying in the park the night before I contacted Cody (Bowen), I prayed and cried out to God—I always said that God wasn’t real. That if there was a God, why would I have gone through the things that I went through in my life. And when (Bowen) took me to the (recovery center), I had no idea it was a faith-based program. I walked in and there was all this Godly stuff,” said Stallman.
She explained being around the faith-based environment basically threw her off and made her worry.
“I was scared to death, but I also remember praying out to God to just let me die or help me. And I got to that place and thought it was a sign from God. I put my all into it, and I completed the program. I came back home,” said Stallman.
With some assistance and time, she and her family got back on their feet as, once she was in recovery, her husband and kids came back. She went to Fayette Recovery for intensive outpatient services.
Stallman further explained that she had to feel all the pain again and feelings she’d been covering with drugs—she had to learn how to cope with it.
“Two-and-a-half years clean—I still go through it, but the difference is how I go through it. I don’t try to numb that pain,” she said. “From the rehab and Fayette Recovery, I learned tools to stay sober. Thought processing—that’s my main tool that I use, because I still get thoughts.”
She explained one such thought is, “I’ll get high and nobody will know.”
“You can never say you’re okay or that you’re never going to get high again, because you never know what tomorrow’s going to bring. If I get a thought and don’t use the tools that I learned, then I could very easily slip back in to that life. With thought processing I play out—like, if I do get high this one time, everybody might not know, but eventually they will because I can’t do it just one time.”
With thinking through it using the tools she has learned, she has been able to redirect thoughts and keep herself from relapsing. She has also used counseling services to help with anxiety and depression rather than depending on medication. It also helps her to stay active and be involved in meetings such as through RecoverWe.
Today, Stallman is doing great as is her husband and four kids. She explained her now eight-year-old twins were baptized earlier this year, she is building her credit, and has held a job for a decent length of time. She also explained her husband can trust her now to pay the bills.
During one of the meetings this year, Stallman’s 14-year-old daughter spoke about being a child of an addict.
“That inspired a lot of kids and even people early in recovery—it helped them to see what we, as addicts, are putting our kids through. I think everybody in that room that night had tears rolling down their face. It was hard to hear that too, because some of the things she never talked to me about—like the pain. I think that was really important for her,” said Stallman.
Eventually, Stallman would like to see a support system be started up for youth affected by addiction.
“When I start losing my faith, I remind myself that He helped me get out of this addiction and stuff—going to church, reading the word—it helps me. Not everybody’s the same. Some people have to go to AA meetings, (NA meetings), and faith-based meetings,” said Stallman. “Everybody has their own needs and everybody’s different. Other things will help them that would never help me.”
There are several resources available through local groups, rehab centers, etc.
Bowen said, “if someone wants help, you’ve got an opportunity to help them.”
Getting a person out of their home area is typically best with recovery and, once a person is ready to go for recovery, it is suggested to get them into it as soon as possible as they may change their mind by the next day.
Those who are or know someone who is struggling with substance use can reach out via the Hope Line at 740-463-1009. To follow or connect with RecoverWe, find the group on their Facebook page, “RecoverWe.”
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.