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Dustin Daniels: Shipwrecked, Then Saved

CBN.com Dustin Daniels comes from a long line of commercial fishermen.

“We go back about 12 generations,” Dustin tells The 700 Club. “My grandfather, my dad, my grandfather’s granddad were all fishermen.”

His family also has a strong Christian heritage. He says, “My grandmother is just a prayer warrior. My grandfather was an awesome man of God.”

But even with strong family ties, a tragic childhood incident led to a turbulent life.

“My family had went on vacation, and I was left with some family friends. While I was at their house, they had a son that was around 20 years old. One whole afternoon, he had me up in his room, and he sexually molested me.”

When his parents’ friends returned home that evening, they found Dustin crying.  But he wouldn’t reveal what had happened.

“I felt I’d done something really bad,” he says. “Whatever had happened wasn’t supposed to happen, and if I said anything, nobody would believe what had happened.”

Dustin kept the secret, long after that day.

“That began a terror in my life. The anger and bitterness began to build because of what had happened and holding it in at a very young age. I began to act out a little bit here and there.”

His behavior got worse after his grandfather died. “When I was around the age of 10, he got cancer,” he says. “The Lord took him home. I got really angry and bitter towards God. That was when I first really started getting into alcohol and smoking. I had gotten a bottle of Bacardi rum, and I came down to the dock to where me and my grandfather used to hang out. I just sat there and downed that bottle as hard and as fast as I could. I got severely sick and passed out in the office of our crab dock. Coming in and out of consciousness, I realized that my face was down in my own vomit. I was choking.”

Another brush with death came when he overdosed on speed and cocaine. 

“I was about 16. I’d been snorting cocaine all day and eating speed. I could actually see my shirt rising off my chest, because my heart was beating so fast and so hard. I remember laying down on the couch thinking I’m going to die.”

Dustin survived, but he didn’t learn his lesson. Even as his lifestyle continued a downward spiral, his responsibilities grew.  He and his girlfriend had a baby, and he became captain of one of his father’s fishing boats -- a childhood dream, but he blew it.

“I had gotten so bad in my drug use that I was no longer able to fish,” he recalls. “I couldn’t run a boat or make good decisions on fishing, because I was so blown out of my mind. I was eating pain pills, Zanex, like they were [candy]. Drinking heavily. I felt like I was normal. I felt like that everything was good.”

But everything wasn’t good.  Dustin overdosed again.  His girlfriend found him, almost dead.

“She called the paramedics. When they got there, when I was in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, I passed away and came back. I stayed on life support for four days. My whole family was there, and it was a huge issue with them to get me into a rehab facility. I convinced them, ‘Hey, I’m all right.’ This really shocked me. I didn’t realize I’d gotten this far.”

Dustin was still convinced he was okay.  He continued to use drugs, but one afternoon, when he and a friend broke in to a woman’s home in search of pills, Dustin was stunned at how crazy his friend appeared.

“God spoke to my heart and said, ‘Listen, that’s how people see you every day of your life.’ For the first time in my addiction, I saw myself for what I’d become. I saw myself as a drug addict. I saw myself how other people are seeing me every day, and it literally broke my heart.”

The next morning, drunk and depressed, Dustin watched show after show on Christian television.

“I called my mom at work and said, ‘Mom, I really need you to come over here. I’m in bad shape and need to get some help.’”

He had heard about a year-long recovery program in a Christian setting called Teen Challenge.  He was just desperate enough to try it. He says, “We pulled in there, and they were doing a drama. I remember I began to weep and cry. I was torn, because I was depressed about being there. Eventually as time went by, my life began to change.”

Soon after, Dustin had an encounter with God that was different than what he’d experienced as a child.

“I said, ‘Lord, I’m here to change my life.’ That is when I realized that there was something else to religion -- that there was a relationship that needed to occur for your life to be changed.”

With counseling at Teen Challenge, Dustin worked through the pain of his childhood.

“It was one of the hardest things that I had ever dealt with. I really fought dealing with those issues. When I did sit down and go through those issues with him, I felt like that I lost 600 pounds. Over the course of days and weeks and months went by, I just became more and more relieved that that was out.”

He finished his recovery program and hasn’t looked back.   Today, he’s a loving husband and father.  He no longer struggles with drug abuse, and in fact, is helping others recover.  Dustin is the director of the Dare Challenge program in the Outer Banks of North Carolina — just down the road from his family’s fishing dock. 

“The Bible says to raise up a child in the way they should go and they’ll leave it or forsake it. That doesn’t mean they won’t turn their back on it or they won’t go their own way, but it means that what you install in them as a child will stick with them. It stuck with me knowing  what the situation was if I chose that path. When I turned my life completely over to God, I believe that I was 100 percent delivered and set free.”

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Transcript

Dustin Daniels comes from a long line of commercial fishermen. “We go back about 12 generations,” Dustin tells The 700 Club. “My grandfather, my dad, my grandfather’s granddad were all fishermen.” His family also has a strong Christian heritage. He says, “My grandmother is just a prayer warrior. My grandfather was an awesome man of God.” But even with strong family ties, a tragic childhood incident led to a turbulent life. “My family had went on vacation, and I was left with some family friends. While I was at their house, they had a son that was around 20 years old. One whole afternoon, he had me up in his room, and he sexually molested me.” When his parents’ friends returned home that evening, they found Dustin crying. But he wouldn’t reveal what had happened. “I felt I’d done something really bad,” he says. “Whatever had happened wasn’t supposed to happen, and if I said anything, nobody would believe what had happened.” Dustin kept the secret, long after that day. “That began a terror in my life. The anger and bitterness began to build because of what had happened and holding it in at a very young age. I began to act out a little bit here and there.” His behavior got worse after his grandfather died. “When I was around the age of 10, he got cancer,” he says. “The Lord took him home. I got really angry and bitter towards God. That was when I first really started getting into alcohol and smoking. I had gotten a bottle of Bacardi rum, and I came down to the dock to where me and my grandfather used to hang out. I just sat there and downed that bottle as hard and as fast as I could. I got severely sick and passed out in the office of our crab dock. Coming in and out of consciousness, I realized that my face was down in my own vomit. I was choking.” Another brush with death came when he overdosed on speed and cocaine.  “I was about 16. I’d been snorting cocaine all day and eating speed. I could actually see my shirt rising off my chest, because my heart was beating so fast and so hard. I remember laying down on the couch thinking I’m going to die.” Dustin survived, but he didn’t learn his lesson. Even as his lifestyle continued a downward spiral, his responsibilities grew. He and his girlfriend had a baby, and he became captain of one of his father’s fishing boats -- a childhood dream, but he blew it. “I had gotten so bad in my drug use that I was no longer able to fish,” he recalls. “I couldn’t run a boat or make good decisions on fishing, because I was so blown out of my mind. I was eating pain pills, Zanex, like they were [candy]. Drinking heavily. I felt like I was normal. I felt like that everything was good.” But everything wasn’t good. Dustin overdosed again. His girlfriend found him, almost dead. “She called the paramedics. When they got there, when I was in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, I passed away and came back. I stayed on life support for four days. My whole family was there, and it was a huge issue with them to get me into a rehab facility. I convinced them, ‘Hey, I’m all right.’ This really shocked me. I didn’t realize I’d gotten this far.” Dustin was still convinced he was okay. He continued to use drugs, but one afternoon, when he and a friend broke in to a woman’s home in search of pills, Dustin was stunned at how crazy his friend appeared. “God spoke to my heart and said, ‘Listen, that’s how people see you every day of your life.’ For the first time in my addiction, I saw myself for what I’d become. I saw myself as a drug addict. I saw myself how other people are seeing me every day, and it literally broke my heart.” The next morning, drunk and depressed, Dustin watched show after show on Christian television. “I called my mom at work and said, ‘Mom, I really need you to come over here. I’m in bad shape and need to get some help.’” He had heard about a year-long recovery program in a Christian setting called Teen Challenge. He was just desperate enough to try it. He says, “We pulled in there, and they were doing a drama. I remember I began to weep and cry. I was torn, because I was depressed about being there. Eventually as time went by, my life began to change.” Soon after, Dustin had an encounter with God that was different than what he’d experienced as a child. “I said, ‘Lord, I’m here to change my life.’ That is when I realized that there was something else to religion -- that there was a relationship that needed to occur for your life to be changed.” With counseling at Teen Challenge, Dustin worked through the pain of his childhood. “It was one of the hardest things that I had ever dealt with. I really fought dealing with those issues. When I did sit down and go through those issues with him, I felt like that I lost 600 pounds. Over the course of days and weeks and months went by, I just became more and more relieved that that was out.” He finished his recovery program and hasn’t looked back. Today, he’s a loving husband and father. He no longer struggles with drug abuse, and in fact, is helping others recover. Dustin is the director of the Teen Challenge program in the Outer Banks of North Carolina — just down the road from his family’s fishing dock.  “The Bible says to raise up a child in the way they should go and they’ll leave it or forsake it. That doesn’t mean they won’t turn their back on it or they won’t go their own way, but it means that what you install in them as a child will stick with them. It stuck with me knowing what the situation was if I chose that path. When I turned my life completely over to God, I believe that I was 100 percent delivered and set free.”

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