KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Bryan Williams is cleaning up his life. A life that took a drastic turn when the stain of drugs and alcohol left its mark.
“Crack cocaine. I was 19 when I really got introduced to it. I started selling, then winded up using,” said Williams.
And for years, Williams struggled to get sober.
“It was like I didn’t care, about anything,” Williams said. “It all pretty much went downhill until I met my wife.”
He met Sandra Barnes when they were children in their hometown of Chattanooga, but the two didn't hit it off until later on in life, forming a bond and starting a family. But they didn't know how difficult life would become as their household coped, not with one addict, but two.
“Me and him have been through so much,” she explained. “I used for about 10 or 15 years. And I got myself together."
The couple attended rehab and stayed clean for more than 15 years, but that all changed when tragedy struck.
“My daughter died about 6 years ago. She had a bad liver and that’s when everything just went downhill,” Barnes said.
The couple had started using again to deal with the pain of the loss.
“They say once you stop and you go back, it gets worse every time,” Williams said.
The two lost their house, their jobs and their family.
“It was horrible. It was bad. It took away everything,” said Barnes.
“I remember my grandson walked in the house and saw me with a bottle in my hand and I was using. He turned around and walked out,” Williams said.
So when they moved to Knoxville about a year ago, they were looking for a second chance at life. Eleven months in, they are both clean and working toward their independence.
The couple is enrolled in Knox Area Rescue Ministries Berea program. It’s based on work, service and learning, KARM explains on its website.
"Berea’s four- to six- month program ushers people into God’s presence through the dignity of work, the value of learning and the joy of serving."
Participants in the program attend personal development classes, work on job assignments, and perform community service.
Barnes and Williams say the big difference for them this time is their faith. Faith in God and belief in themselves, knowing that it’s never too late for a fresh start.
“That’s how I knew there really was some good in Bryan. And Bryan knew there was some good in me,” Barnes said. “Now I see that I can’t do it on my own. I see that I need Jesus Christ in my life.”
Her big piece of advice to anyone struggling with addiction?
“Don’t ever give up,” Barnes said.
All week long we'll bring you other stories of success against addictions from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. on 10News Today.