Community Stories

Downtown Rescue Mission: When Addiction Hits Good Families

Scott Campbell isn’t the kind of guy you expect to be addicted to drugs. He sits in the office of Downtown Rescue Mission wearing Ralph Lauren—he just came from church—and you can’t help but like him. He’s friendly and personable. He came from a good home in Stone Mountain, one of the more affluent parts of the Atlanta suburbs. He’s clean-cut with impeccable manners.

Scott Campbell is proof addiction can hit anyone from any family, in any part of the country.

When Peer Pressure Hits

Scott’s father was a pastor. The Campbells went to church, but Scott just wasn’t interested in Bible facts, he said. While he never turned against his faith, he didn’t think about it either.

He didn’t have many friends, so when middle school peer pressure hit, Scott looked for a way to fit in, but his new group of friends proved to be bad influences. By seventh grade, he was smoking pot and stealing. When his grades dropped, his parents put him in a Christian school.

The new school didn’t change anything, though. By the time he was 16, Scott’s drug use had escalated. He tried cocaine and other drugs. A senior at his school took him to a party where he tried meth and found addiction. By the time he was 18, meth was a daily part of his life.

When the opportunity came to move to Huntsville, away from his Atlanta friends, Scott jumped at the chance for a new start. His parents were moving to Huntsville for a job transfer, and Scott was coming with them.

“They told me it was a slower lifestyle than Atlanta and that I might want to get away from that,” Scott said. “I came over here and found out, while it was slower, there was a lot more to get into.”

Within a few months, those old habits returned. Scott walked into a Movie Gallery and asked the cashier what there was to do in Huntsville. She told him, “Not much but drink, party and do drugs. My boyfriend sells meth.”

He waited for her get off work and went to her house. He stayed there for a week, strung out on meth, before he got the idea to start trafficking meth.

Scott knew a meth manufacturer in Atlanta, so he made the drive to get cheap drugs. He thought it would make his new friends like him more, he said. He used his money to feed his addiction, so even though he was trafficking large amounts of meth, he was always broke.

Still, Scott said, “by the grace of God,” he was never caught in a drug raid. Once, police caught him with drug residue in his pocket. He went to jail and was sentenced to a drug rehab program in Fort Payne. Because he went once a week for classes and drug tests, he couldn’t hold down a regular job. Instead, he started a landscaping business that proved to be very lucrative.

The Vicious, Repetitive Cycle

Scott stayed clean for two years during the court-ordered drug program and in the months afterwards.

He was doing well, making money, and his girlfriend was pregnant with his son. His landscaping business picked up right before the birth, so he went back to using to keep up.

“I remember that day,” Scott said. “I remember seeing him and holding him, and I remember smiling and helping…and how beautiful (the mother) was…I remember I really wanted to be a good dad and stop… She was tired, and she needed me, but I was falling asleep. So, I called a dope man to come up there and bring me something…He wanted to help me out, so he brought me something up there so I could stay awake, and I don’t really remember anything after that for a long time.”

Their relationship started falling apart after their son was born and soon turned violent. Scott never hit her directly, but one time he kicked the door in after she locked him out, almost hitting her and the baby in the process. He broke car windows and windows in the house in an attempt to get back in the home.

After police told him to never return to the house, Scott became homeless, living beside the dumpster behind Wendy’s on South Parkway.

The next few years were a vicious cycle: no drugs for a while, then back to using. In all, he attended three rehabs and one short-term medical counseling program.

He fell in love with a woman—this is the part of the story that still gets Scott choked up—and moved to the coast to be with her and her sick son. One day, they were grocery shopping, and Scott got the idea to cook some meth. And he got the woman he loved hooked, got her into some legal trouble and broke her heart. After they broke up, he was homeless againliving in a tent on Monte Sano.

Scott’s story is emotionally draining at best. You’re on his side for the part when he gets it all together, but then there’s the part when he starts using meth again and ruins it all. He’s such a nice guy, so even though his story is frustrating—why doesn’t he just stop talking to the friends who do drugs—you still want to see him succeed.

Scott went to Texas to live in a double-wide with six other people, all of whom had severe mental disorders, drug or alcohol problems. He only stayed there for a month before begging his parents for a bus ticket home. He lived at home for a while before his willpower lapsed.

Again. You see where this is going?

His parents kicked him out when he failed a drug test. They did, however, give him some money to pay off some legal trouble. Instead, he decided to run to Nashville with one of his drug-using friends. It was a wreck, Scott said.

A stranger bought Scott’s bus ticket back to Huntsville and straight to Downtown Rescue Mission.

Changing Everything

That was May 26, 2016. Today, Scott is nearing graduation from the year-long program. It’s different this time. Instead of focusing on fixing himself, Downtown Rescue Mission has taught him to focus on serving God.

“The Lord really revealed Himself to me while I was here in a class one day,” Scott said. “I began to understand that Jesus, while He was on the cross…He felt all of the guilt that I felt. He felt all of the shame that I felt, and that’s pretty hard to comprehend that He felt it…He sought me out and loved me and did that before I was even born. He knew what I was going to do, and He knew that I was going to deny and betray Him and hurt Him and sin against Him, but He still went through it and came down off His throne and lived to do this so that we can have a relationship with Him.”

That revelation changed everything for Scott. After the Downtown Rescue Mission graduation, he plans on finding a new job and being the father his son needs. It will be a tough road, but he’s equipped to handle it now.

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