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Calling Out to God Broke the Cycle of Addiction

Ed Heath - 700 Club Producer

“I had to be in charge of everything and control every aspect of my life. The second I realized I lost control of my life and something else was in control of me, which was probably like three or four weeks in to using heroin, I immediately wanted to stop. And it was terrifying that I couldn't.” Control had become everything to Daniel McGhee. He was an extremely smart kid, but his shyness and small stature made him feel the need to prove himself. Daniel recalls, “I felt like a fragile little person. So, I started uh emulating people. At a very early age I started watching gangster movies and drug dealer movies, and I wanted to emulate that. I wanted to be respected and feared. Being the littlest in the group and the youngest in the group. I often felt like I had to be the craziest.”

Daniel’s responsible, hard-working parents did everything they could to get him on the right path including taking him to church. But he tested their authority at every turn. He remembers, “They caught me smoking cigarettes at an early age. They caught me stealing beer at an early age. And they tried their best to hand down punishments and, you know, do things that they thought were gonna try to curb my behavior.” Which only got worse. At 13 Daniel found a taste for alcohol, and the confidence that came with it. He says, “It took away my shyness. It made me a tough guy. I could go talk to any women that I wanted to. I could go talk to anybody.  It made me stand up for myself and it made me be who I thought I wanted to be.”

Taking his rebellion and ego to another level, he started selling drugs, which got him kicked out of school in 10th grade. He recalls, “I think at that age I was proud of it. It just furthered the image that I thought that I had to create about myself, this bad guy, this tough guy and, you know, could do whatever I wanted.” A full-blown alcoholic and drug dealer Daniel left home at 17.  Soon he discovered a new high. “I meet an older woman who is using heroin. I did the heroin and it brought me such inner warmth and comfort and peace. It was like floating on a pillow. And I had no worries, no qualms, no pain, no anxiety, no depression, I just was. And I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Within a week, heroin had taken control of Daniel, sending him into a 6-year spiral of homelessness and addiction. Daniel recalls, “There were a lot of horrible things I did. I spent a lot of time sleeping at abandoned houses, sleeping in the streets, sleeping in dumpster enclosures. You know, anywhere where I could find shelter. Shooting up with dirty needles, toilet water and all this other stuff. The only purpose was to be high. And that's why I didn't even care whether I lived or died. I mean, sometimes I ended up in hospitals, sometimes I didn't. I've probably overdosed maybe about eight times.”

In those 6 years, Daniel was incarcerated close to 30 times.  In his few moments of clarity he made many unsuccessful attempts at rehab. He says, “Even though I didn't want to be an addict, I continued that cycle out of fear. The fear keeps us locked in place, because the alternative is going through anxiety, depression and severe physical withdrawals.  And I went right back to what I knew. Heroin numbs your physical pain, your emotional pain, everything and it was like a refuge for me.”

In 2001 a court told Daniel either get into a rehab program or spend the next 14 years in prison.  He opted for a Salvation Army treatment center because it was just 9 months and free. He recalls, “It was like a whole vibe of love and spirituality. It's a very Christian program. It was very church based. And it reintroduced me to God. And I finally started to get it. It was like I had to have life beat me up that bad before I was finally willing to surrender and listen to this higher authority.” Now studying the Bible, attending church, and meeting with pastors, Daniel realized his life would never really change unless Jesus was in control. So, one Sunday morning, he surrendered his life to Christ. He remembers, “Once my heart was opened, it was like my my whole being was open. I felt lighter. I felt positive.  I felt like I had a future, and I had, you know, a chance. I had had to have control of everything in my life, I had to be in charge of everything and control every aspect of my life. The ironic thing is that it wasn't until I learned that I had to surrender my life and my will to God that I was able to get clean and change my life.”

Daniel finished the program when he was 25 and has been clean ever since.  He started working hard to build a future for himself. He remembers, “I'm a convict. I have no skills. I have no trade. I have nothing going for me. So, I had to humble myself and that's what I did.” Today he’s a realtor and owner of a jail bond business but Daniel’s true calling is to help people in need. He says there’s only one person he looks to for direction and meaning in life. He says, “Jesus is a role model, and that's what I often tell people. He's my role model.  I spend my entire life trying to chase Jesus, trying to be like Him. If I came out of what I came out of, to be where I am at today, anybody can. We win by surrendering to God and letting His will take over our lives instead of our own will.”

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