A five-year-old boy spent his birthday with his mother for the first time recently. She had been unable to spend previous birthdays with him because she had been on drugs.
She helped bake a cake for her son with other women who were also at the Addiction Deliverance Outreach’s Care Center, a place where individuals go to battle substance abuse.
Stories like these are why Chad Hunt, pastor of Caveland Church and ADO founder, continues to work.
About 13 years ago, Hunt realized there was a need for better substance abuse programs. He began the process of writing a book about how to combat it.
“I wrote four steps because I didn’t know there was supposed to be 12, he said. Four pages was all it was when I started. This dude came in on Oxycodone. I took him through it and he did OK. So he told someone else, and they came. I continued to write.”
It wasn’t long before other pastors approached him about his program, he said.
“It got to the point where we couldn’t handle the client load. So, I said to [the pastors], ‘how about if I write down what I do, then you do it.’ I began to write information down for pastors. Well, after about a year, it was kind of like a book.”
He decided he wanted to see if he could get it published, so he called LifeWay, a publisher of Christian books. He told the woman who answered about his book.
“[The woman] kind of broke down on me,” Hunt said. “She’s like, ‘Listen, [substance abuse] is going on in my family. And I’m not supposed to do this, but I’m going to give you the name of a woman and her address. If she thinks [the book] is worthy, she’ll pass it on.”
Three weeks after sending his manuscript, he heard from one of the chief editors of LifeWay. They met for lunch in Nashville. Hunt said the editor told him that what he had written was different from anything he had seen in the country.
“The editor [also] said, ‘You have too much leadership in it,” Hunt said. “Rewrite it on layman’s terms.’ I spent a year and rewrote a book and a workbook. It got published and has been used all over the country. I do conferences everywhere and teach people how to use it.”
The recovery program typically lasts about six months. Ninety-five percent of their clientèle comes straight from the courts, he said. Once someone gets out of a local jail for using drugs, they are placed into one of the three care centers if they chose to receive a Christian-based treatment plan. The plan is divided into four main portions that can help them become disciples in the future, he said.
Acceptance is the first step in the ministry program.
“They have to accept the fact addiction has both physical and spiritual properties,” Hunt said. “Drug addicts are looking for what Adam lost in the garden. They are looking for that piece that seems to be missing. That’s why they experiment. That’s why we all do things. Secondly, we all have an adversary: Satan, who kills, steals and destroys. If we can get them to believe that there’s a dark, spiritual force, then we can get them to grasp onto a good spiritual source. Because they understand, if they are going to beat this, they can’t do it on their own. They have to let God help them.”
The education step follows acceptance.
“We teach them everything that drugs does to your body,” Hunt said. “So if you’re a meth addict, our mentors have all this information. They let them know exactly what it does to your body.”
Accountability is the third step.
“We teach them to be accountable to God, accountable to their family, to be accountable to society and to be accountable to themselves,” Hunt said.
The final step is recovery.
One of the requirements of the program is attending the church.
“Two things happen at church,” he said. “They are exposed to non-[substance abuse] using relationships and they are exposed to the gospel.
On top of helping people recover from substance abuse, ADO assists individuals with other life skills, he said.
“We help them find jobs,” Hunt said. “We teach them how to dress for an interview, how to fill out an application. How to respond when you have a felony so you can get an interview. We do parenting classes with them. We take them to get their GED. We have laptops at the church, so they come into the church once a week and do their GED classes.”
Hunt said that the outreach system as a whole is very strict.
“A hundred people who come into the program, probably 25 to 30 will actually make it,” Hunt said. “We do consistent random supervised drug tests all the time. We have rules. Every house is under 24 hours surveillance. My outreach pastor can be in London and open his laptop and see what’s going on. They have curfews, they need to keep things tidy. We’re trying to teach them how to become a functioning citizen. That’s why our recovery rate is 55 percent. We don’t graduate people who are not serious.”
Hunt said that not everyone has a good opinion about Caveland Church.
“We get a lot of bad noise about it,” Hunt said. “People call us the ‘drug addict church,’ but I don’t care.”
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