By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
Make the pain go away. If I could get just one more high - just one more - then the hurt will stop. Numb to everyone and everything, I can survive. It'll be OK.
That's the thought process of an addict.
'I know - I've been there,' said Amanda Moore of Temple. The 25-year-old is recovering from a four-year addiction to crystal meth.
'It controls your life,' she said. 'Your every thought is about how to get that next high.'
The 'it' that produces the desired high varies from person to person. For Miss Moore, 'it' was methamphetamine.
But for someone else, 'it' is food. For another, 'it' is sex.
The 'it' list knows no end. 'It' can be nicotine or crack cocaine. 'It' can be exercising, shopping, fighting, hoarding or manipulating. 'It' can be anything.
But 'it' doesn't have to win.
Crystal meth didn't beat Miss Moore. Once emaciated and grim-faced, the thriving, smiling woman says she gets up everyday, glad and thankful to be alive.
In their younger years, Charlie Turnbo of Salado and Jack Sims of Temple were perpetually drunk. They said 'the bottle ruled' their lives.
But nowadays, years after their last drinks, the two men said they are successful and content. Turnbo, a graduate of the 12-step AA program, has worked in Christian ministry for more than 20 years. Sims is retired from a 15-year career as a licensed chemical dependency counselor.
Miss Moore, Turnbo and Sims share a common blessing - the freedom from addiction.
'We want others who suffer the way we did to know that there is hope,' Turnbo said. 'They can recover. We did.'
To accomplish this goal, Turnbo brings Celebrate Recovery to Temple. The program seeks to help people overcome their addictions in a safe, non-judgmental environment through the counsel and guidance of former addicts.
The national ministry of Celebrate Recovery is the 16-year-old brainchild of John Baker, pastor of Saddleback Church in California. After his high school graduation, Baker served as a U.S. Air Force pilot in the Vietnam War. In the subsequent years, Baker struggled with depression and developed an addiction to alcohol.
'I was beginning to be uncomfortable with my lifestyle and priorities,' Baker says in his testimony on the Celebrate Recovery Web site. 'To the outside world, everything seemed normal, but in my heart I knew something was very wrong. My drinking increased, and I turned my back completely on God.'
The core concepts of Celebrate Recovery are the two realizations that put Baker on his 'road to recovery.'
'My hurts, hang-ups and habits cost me my close relationship with my family,' Baker said. 'After that, I realized I was powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing. My life was unmanageable.'
Baker said, 'Waking up one day and having nothing is the turn-around point' in an addict's life. Baker realized God exists.
'I matter to Him, or I wouldn't be here,' Baker said, now having a decade of sobriety behind him. 'He had the power to help me recover.'
Baker's framework of Celebrate Recovery promotes the Christian faith without excluding other beliefs.
'Our aim is to accept people and love them as they are. We're not demanding they change because we're all in the recovery process together. No one arrives here perfect,' Turnbo said. 'The ultimate goal in recovery is to admit you are powerless and to accept the existence of a higher being.'
Freedom from addiction is Celebrate Recovery's main cause, but the program also seeks to help people hurting from the effects of mental illness, incest and cancer. Former prison inmates are also welcome.
No matter its package, hurt is hurt.
The local program
Turnbo and his wife, Beverly, will be the leaders of the Celebrate Recovery group in Temple, and Temple Mayor Bill Jones III applauds their efforts.
'Drugs are a mainstream problem everywhere. I salute any group that works to turn people's lives around,' Jones said. 'If it helps just one person, it's done a good job.'
Mr. and Mrs. Turnbo started a Celebrate Recovery group in Salado almost three years ago, and the pair said it never stopped growing. Ten people attended when the group formed. Now, three years later, at least 35 people regularly participate.
'Considering Salado's small population, that's saying something,' Turnbo said.
There are about 80 Celebrate Recovery groups that meet in Texas. Meeting sites in Central Texas are in Gatesville, Georgetown, Salado, Waco and Austin. Bobby Arnold, Celebrate Recovery representative for the Central Texas region, can help people find the meeting place closest to their homes. He can be reached at (512) 557-1198 or at email@example.com.
For Temple's first Celebrate Recovery meeting, Temple Bible Church will open its doors to area addicts Tuesday.
'We'll meet 52 weeks a year, even in bad weather and holidays,' Turnbo said. 'As long as someone can get here, we'll meet. Holidays are times when support is needed the most.'
Addiction is no stranger to the 30 discussion leaders who plan to participate in the local ministry.
'These volunteers are people who have been there,' Turnbo said. 'The best way to learn is from someone who's been there.'
Starting at 6 p.m., the Tuesday meetings will last until 8:30 p.m.
'The first half hour will be an opportunity for fellowship,' Turnbo said. 'There'll be coffee and snacks.'
There will be an hour set aside for worship.
The remaining hour of the meeting will consist of group discussion.
There will be six small groups - three for men and three for women. Group leaders underwent a six-week training program that taught how to facilitate small-group discussions.
'The small groups will be problem specific,' Turnbo said, explaining that alcoholics will be in one group while the drug addicts will be in another. Each group will focus on a different 'hurt.'
David Richardson, pastor of adult ministries at Temple Bible Church, is the church staff member responsible for recruiting the Celebrate Recovery program.
'I've visited several Celebrate Recovery program groups, and I've seen the changes it makes in people's lives,' Richardson said. 'It releases addicts from bondage.'
Richardson and his boss, Gary DeSalvo, have been working to bring Celebrate Recover to Temple Bible Church since October 2006.
'Celebrate Recovery lets folks face their struggles in an open environment,' said DeSalvo, senior pastor at Temple Bible Church. 'The results are amazing.'
People planning to attend Tuesday's meeting do not need to be prepared to pay an admission fee. Celebrate Recovery operates solely on free-will donations.
'We're self-funded. People coming for help absolutely do not need to feel pressured to pay for anything,' Turnbo said. 'God's always provided for us. We've never had a meeting where people couldn't eat or where there wasn't enough books.'
Throughout the ongoing recovery effort, each participant will have an accountability partner and a sponsor. Turnbo likened this buddy/sponsor system to a physical fitness program.
'The accountability partner is someone who goes to the gym with you. He learns, sweats and works right beside you,' Turnbo said. 'The sponsor is someone who has graduated from a 12-step recovery program. The sponsor is the personal trainer who encourages you along the way. The sponsor has been there.'
Recovery from addiction includes the elimination of co-dependency in relationships where enabling behaviors are prevalent.
'If you fall back into that same situation or that same crowd, where there's always a drink or drug to be had, you're finished. You sink back to where you were,' Turnbo said.
Another core part of recovery is taking responsibility.
'We own up to what we did and the problems we caused,' Turnbo said. 'In that way, we are not anonymous. We own up to ourselves.'
Intimate details shared within group discussion stays within the confines of the group.
'What is said among us stays among us,' Turnbo said. 'The goal is to hold each other accountable.'
Same steps, different attitude
Celebrate Recovery's mission statement is: 'We are an up front Christian ministry interested in helping hurting people.'
Mrs. Turnbo, co-leader of the ministry along with husband, said Celebrate Recovery 'is a safe place to take your mask off and deal with your hurt.'
'You can be who you truly are and not be judged,' interjected Miss Moore.
Sims, a recovered alcoholic, said he appreciates the open environment.
'I believe in God. You say 'God' in an AA meeting these days, then somebody might bite your throat,' Sims said. His dealings with Alcoholics Anonymous started several decades ago, but with the passage of time, he said the program lost its appeal.
Turnbo, however, said programs like AA and Narcotics Anonymous have their strengths. Turnbo, himself, is a graduate of the AA 12-Step Program.
'We're just different,' Turnbo said. 'Being Christ-centered makes us different and sticking our names to our deeds makes us different.'
Candi Ricks of Temple said honesty and openness are the key factors of Celebrate Recovery. Miss Ricks is a woman in her early 20s who has 'battled her own demons and is the better for it.' She says she's at Celebrate Recovery to help however she can.
'This is a place where young people can meet other young people who understand each other's troubles.' Miss Ricks said. 'There's a lot of knowledge here about addiction, about pain and about hope. That's why this program is so good. There's someone who knows.'
Amen, Turnbo said.
'If we could do it on our own, Jesus wouldn't have come.'