Former addict talks about journey to recovery

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

LONDON, Ky. (WYMT) - Three years ago, Carl Varney said his life was spiraling out of control.

At first glance, the man dressed in a firmly pressed collared shirt, slick coal slacks and a pair of square-toed, polished black loafers might not be the typical mental image of a former drug addict.

“There were several times during that I was a miserable person,” said the 33-year-old.

Varney said he faced seven felony drug charges and had a choice to go to jail or seek help. The Huntington, W. Va. native said that was when he said he decided to turn his life around.

The preacher’s son talked about his road to recovery and how he is now helping folks who are walking down a similar path.

“It became out of control and it totally ruled my life and everything centered around pills,” said Varney.

Varney said the first time he took pain medication was after a bad wreck in 2004. He said he spent several days in the trauma unit at a Nashville, Tenn. hospital after he suffered a lacerated liver and a collapsed lung. The Nashville musician said that was not when his addiction started.

“I was able to quit then,” said Varney.

Varney said his substance abuse problem did not start until he began working at a restaurant in Ashland, Ky., in 2006.

“I thought it was fine, since I had already taken pain medication before,” said Varney.
“Then it turned into one before work and then one after work and two and then it got to where I started to sell them to maintain my habit.”

Varney said he traveled to Florida to traffic pills. He said he was miserable with the lifestyle, but did not know where to turn.

“I knew that wanted out but I didn't know how to get out,” said Varney.

He said he knew his life was on the line and he had to admit to himself that the addiction was beyond his control.

“The road that I was on led to hell or jail,” said Varney.
“If I hadn’t been given the opportunity to go to treatment, I would have ended up in one of those places.”

He said he decided to change his path.

“Chad’s Hope gave me the tools to become a better person, a better man all around, not just to get off of drugs, but to be prepared for life,” said Varney.

Varney said he entered Chad’s Hope after meeting some officials from Operation UNITE. Though they did not pay for his treatment, he met several people in the program who had utilized the voucher program the organization offers.

Officials said Chad’s Hope is one of many treatment programs Operation UNITE refers people to. The facility is a faith-based program located in Manchester, Ky.

Varney served as a youth pastor after completing a one year program at Chad’s Hope. UNITE officials said they try to find programs that work for people who call in to the treatment line.

Varney now works as a coordinator for Operation UNITE. He said he comes and speaks to people about how he overcame substance abuse, “pretty much any time he is asked.”

Varney said that everyone's journey to recovery is unique to that individual and that was why he goes around talking and speaking to people, who are going through the same things he went through. He said he wanted to send a message that there is life after addiction.

“For some people when their heart reaches a point of brokenness, then it can be put back together,” said Varney.
“I have been told by others and I believe it that I represent hope.”

Varney said he has been married for two months and met his wife in one of the churches he joined after coming out of Chad’s Hope. Varney said he has also served as a worship leader at a Manchester church in addition to the other jobs he has taken on.

“There is a chance to come out of addiction and to not just be okay, but to actually become better than what I was before,” said Varney.

Varney said he has never been happier.

He said he met a lot of friends in the treatment program with similar success stories.

“One of my buddies re-married his wife after 15 years of separation,” said Varney.
“That’s the stories that people need to hear about.”

Varney said he felt it was “too often” people hear about families torn apart by addiction.

“You can regain that trust and rebuild families,” said Varney.

“That's what it is all about,” said Dan Smoot of Operation UNITE.
“That’s what the treatment part of UNITE is, getting these people healthy, back working, back to their kids’ ball games and back to happy citizens.”

September is National Recovery Month. Smoot said Operation UNITE has helped hundreds with their voucher program by paying for treatment for those who qualify. The number for the UNITE treatment line is 1-866-908-6483


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