Freed after 20 Years of Heroin and Methadone Addiction
A New Attempt
On the third day the withdrawal symptoms started. I was sitting in the nice, bright and clean flat of my new Christian friends, surrounded by a group of people who believed that Jesus could help me to overcome my 20 years of heroin and methadone addiction. Like many other addicts, I had tried countless times to quit. I had tried heroin substitutes like codeine and methadone, but these just hooked me even more. I had tried stopping drugs "cold turkey" scores of times, five times under professional medical observation in hospitals. Nothing could keep me away from drugs. When my GP classified me a hopeless case, I knew that I would die a drug addict, just as many of my friends had done before me.
But then I met Franz and his Christian friends, who told me that God can help, and that Jesus is willing and able to set people free from any kind of evil power – even today! I believed what they said, that Jesus would take away any pain, and decided to give it a shot. So here we were, this small group of Christians full of faith and myself, gathered together in a flat to ask God to comply with my last remaining hope. And during the first two days it was great!
Then the agitation started. The cravings and physical pain that only a drug addict understands. We prayed. We sang. We did gymnastic exercises. We went for walks in the fresh air. Eventually any movement became difficult. Nothing really helped. I had thought that the situation would just pass by if we kept praying together, but it didn’t work. I knew that my friends had my methadone and I wanted it. I asked them to give it to me, I pleaded; they wanted me to hang on. I wanted to give in. Escape. I still had a little "stash" saved in my fridge at home; I had to get away and take a taxi there right now. I knew the withdrawal symptoms only too well, and I knew that I just couldn't go through it again. I was a loser and I knew it. Maybe I just didn’t have enough faith? Maybe I had sinned too much? Maybe God didn’t have enough power to break through something as powerful as a methadone addiction? My friends tried to talk me out of it, encouraged me to pull through, but in the end, they knew they couldn’t force me. Peter went downstairs to get the methadone. There really was no hope.
A Hopeless Case
A doctor will only classify someone as a hopeless case after a long career of drug addiction, and I was the perfect example. At 13, out of curiosity, I started to smoke cigarettes and then hash; I wanted to belong to this group of juveniles in my area (Bavaria) – punks, Goths and others. We listened to New Wave and Gothic music and went to the discos, where we boozed and toked until we had to vomit. During this time I left home. I moved to my Gran's place, who was old and couldn’t look after herself anymore, to care for her. This way I had more liberty and could stay out for nights on end.
After a few months I was addicted to heroin
At the age of 15 I started with speed and LSD which I got from a friend. During the day I was the well-behaved daughter, studying for school and passing my final exam well, but in the evening I was ferocious and wild, a ‘Gothic Girl‘. At 17 I tried heroin for the first time and also cocaine, which I then took frequently. I smoked marijuana and of course continued drinking alcohol. At my parents' home the problems increased. There were arguments and fights. The constant clashes left me very unhappy, even my grades started getting worse. I wanted to get out of this situation, so I started taking different types of sleeping and depression tablets, for example Rohypnol, Medinox, and Remedacen. After my graduation I began an internship in social care, were I helped disabled people. At the same time I went deeper into drugs and took hard drugs nearly every weekend. After a few months I was addicted to heroin. My friend and I drove to Zürich, where we stocked up, and from that point on I shot up (injected heroin) daily.
Pregnant and Addicted to Drugs
My days revolved around supplying myself with more drugs; I even travelled to different cities in Europe to get drugs. Almost all of my friends from my former Gothic-Clique became addicted to heroin. My sisters were shocked because I was unresponsive most of the time. Quite often I got withdrawal symptoms when there was no money or drugs, which of course was extremely unpleasant. I tried as well as I could to complete my internship, after that I started training as a health education nurse at a college.
During this time I got to know my boyfriend. He didn’t take drugs and didn’t like that I took them. We started a drug rehab, but it failed. My boyfriend was so disappointed that he left me. But meanwhile, I had become pregnant. Because of the drugs, my boyfriend wanted me to have an abortion. With the help of codeine I managed, over the next 3 months, to wean myself down to zero. (Codeine is an opiate, which doctors prescribe to try to help addicts.) Nonetheless, even during my pregnancy I started taking drugs again and backed out of my education.
One week after the birth of my healthy daughter I left the hospital. I managed to stay clean for the next 3 months. My daughter had brought joy into my life, something worth living for. It was a new beginning. Then came the first relapse.
It was a new beginning – then came the first relapse
The temptation to take drugs again was simply too strong. After a few months I was again completely addicted to heroin. I went to the doctor for a prescription of codeine. But the codeine was not enough for me anymore, so I continued taking heroin also. The situation now was in many ways more difficult, as I always had my baby girl with me, and I desired a completely different life for her. So I began a hospitalized detoxification and rehabilitation program. After a week in hospital suffering heavy withdrawal symptoms, I backed out of the therapy and immediately injected heroin again. Shortly after, with the help of the drug advice centre, I made another effort and went for hospitalized therapy again, this time in Berlin. This time I managed to temporarily get clean, but still began taking drugs again soon afterwards. At the weekends I went to techno parties (raves) and took cocktails of LSD, speed and ecstasy. To come down from these trips I took heroin and codeine. This was now my second failed supervised rehabilitation attempt. I desperately wanted to stop; but neither the strength of my own will, nor professional medical help, nor even my love for my own little daughter could match the crushing power that drugs had over my life.
The Darkest Hour
I nevertheless tried to get my life in order and started a study of social education. During this time my mother died and I became completely addicted to heroin again, drinking much and regularly. I moved to Munich and experienced a total breakdown – I stopped my studies and took more drugs, got into problems with the authorities, was constantly out and about in the scene. Finally I went to see a doctor and he signed me up for a methadone substitution program. I then got this substitute (14 ml per day was my maximum) and still took heroin at the same time, because with methadone you don’t get the real “kick”. During these years I tried another therapy and managed to live without drugs for 3 months, but then slid back again. The doctor said that I was addicted to multiple drugs and not fit for therapy; severely dependent - a hopeless case. I thought I would take drugs for the rest of my life. I was constantly under the influence of alcohol and took pills – bigger amounts of Diazepam (a medication similar to valium). Diazepam calms you down and cuts you off from your environment, as your environment disturbs you. You just feel “great”, especially in combination with alcohol.
I still tried to live my life and look after my child. Trips to the doctor (to get the methadone) and watching TV were the key events in my life. Through all this time I saw friends and acquaintances from the drug scene die from an overdose of heroin or Fentanyl (plaster). I had always thought this would never happen to me. Like so many others, I thought I would spend the rest of my life taking methadone. But many were mistaken and died, not necessarily through methadone but through additional drugs and pills. It was clear to me that without a dramatic change in my life, it would only be a matter of time until I suffered the same fate.
I fought the addiction to heroin and through many ups and downs I finally managed to be free from heroin after a few years. My methadone dose then was so high that heroin wouldn’t have worked properly anymore anyway. So I only used methadone, which makes you even more addicted than heroin and is much harder to wean off. For the first time I managed to finish a degree as a bookkeeper and was able to work part-time in a little accountant office.
That was when God brought Franz into my life.
A WAY OUT?
Franz is a hard working craftsman and was a customer of my former boss. When I realised that my boss was taking financial advantage of Franz and was defrauding him, I went to Franz and explained the situation. We both went to the Police and reported him. Through this situation I got to know Franz better and learnt that he was a Christian. He also invited me to a Christian meeting. I liked the friendly and positive atmosphere immediately and I was astonished to hear about the miracles God is still doing in our days. I also learnt about the possibility of getting freed from drugs and addiction through God’s power and read the testimonies from Georg and Jessica, which are also on this website. At this time I took 13 ml methadone daily, drank and smoked heavily. Franz gave me a Bible and in due time I started to read it and even to pray, and I noticed God working in my life. I felt the inner urge to get my life in order with God, to be freed from sin and to start anew. The desire to live as a Christian grew in me. I read in the Bible that repentance about committed sins is the first step to a new life. MATTHEW 4:17
“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
I spoke to God about my transgressions and sins asking him for forgiveness. 1 JOHN 1:9,
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I knew that baptism meant a new start, that the old life dies and a new one starts.
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
I prayed together with my new friends in the church and I received the Holy Spirit. It was much easier than I thought. When I prayed in my new prayer language, I felt no desire for alcohol nor cigarettes anymore at all. I was completely set free from this addictive craving. I was completely amazed by what had happened. To be honest I hadn't even wanted to give these things up.
The desire for alcohol and cigarettes was gone and never returned. Through the Holy Spirit I received a great inner peace, this meant a whole new feeling, a great relief and liberation that I've never had before. I was totally surprised as I didn't have a lot of faith, but God was beginning to shom me that my new life didn't depend on my own strength, will or abilities, but rather on His. JOHN 8:36,
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
That was my first big miracle with God. I wanted to tell my friends in the scene about my experiences - none of us could have ever imagined this to happen. I was immediately baptized, as the Bible says - under water. It was a great joy and relief for me to know that I was at peace with God and on the right track - I experienced a real, good and persistent feeling of happiness! And this time it wasn’t the result of taking drugs! 2 CORINTHIANS 5:17,
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
I had thought that after the baptism my drug addiction would also be gone. God, however, had another plan.
Christ is Formed in Me
At first everything was just wonderful. I enjoyed new life with my inner joy and peace. I met my new friends regularly and they helped me practically and with advice. We took trips together and visited some other places in southern Germany and in Switzerland where I became more familiar with the life in Christ.
Unfortunately my methadone addiction was still there. In the 6 months following, I slowly decreased my dosage of methadone from 13ml to 6ml per day. It was really hard and accompanied by various withdrawal symptoms such as physical pain, insomnia, a new inner restlessness, weakness and impaired concentration. I also became doubtful about whether I had gone the right way and sometimes I would increase my dose again. It was a fight! On the other hand, this made me read the Bible more, pray lots in the Holy Spirit and I went to all assembly meetings. God worked in my life. GALATIANS 4:19,
"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you," My daughter, by now 18, was happy but also sceptical about the change in me and wondered whether this would be a permanent change. She keenly observed me and came along to our meetings. I got to know God's ways more and more and the need to turn away from sin in any form. Besides this I also learned to ask Jesus for help for all the steps we take on our way.
The Power of the Devil is Broken
My home was filled with many videos and DVDs with horror movies, books on witchcraft and magic and music with clearly anti-Christian content. This was part of my sad and sometimes very dark past. Many people in the drug scene spend their time on dark and occult things. Some profess Satanism or even practise it, others revel in death wish, and many commit criminal, illegal acts. The drug scene is a world full of abysses, wickedness, despair... God doesn't like occult or magical things as you can read e.g. in ACTS 19:19-20. This scripture helped me a lot. I realized that I had to decide. Full of hunger for healing and new life I could not keep things in my life which in God's eyes were not good or wouldn’t honour Him.
After I had destroyed all bad movies, books, records and CDs and had thrown them into the garbage, the atmosphere in my apartment suddenly changed. I could sleep far better. My daughter and several friends also noticed this change in our apartment very clearly without knowing the reason why. It's amazing what kind of influence and power the "powers of darkness" can have, if I’d only known before. This situation convinced me that Jesus' power is much stronger and always for good. LUKE 1:79,
“To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
God Gives Faith
I then read an amazing and well-known book called “Chasing the Dragon” by Jackie Pullinger. The book talks about people who got freed from the bondage of drug addiction through God’s power. Some of them got delivered immediately and on the spot, some of them only after a few days of communal prayer. They all had no withdrawal symptoms. My desire was to be freed from my drug addiction in the same way - that I wouldn’t have any pain or sufferings that people usually experience when they go through a withdrawal. My faith grew and I started believing that I could have the same experience as these people in the book and that Jesus would help going through a withdrawal! I asked my doctor and she said that under no circumstances should I dare to undergo an abrupt withdrawal (ʺcold turkeyʺ).
She said that it could result in severe health complications. Although I understood her concern, I still had a lot of trust in Jesus. I spent a week at my friends place from my church to undergo the entire withdrawal. On the first day, we already reduced my methadone intake from 6 ml to 0.0 ml – in other words, I didn’t take any methadone. To be on the safe side, my friends kept a little methadone in their fridge for me – just in case it didn’t ʺworkʺ. I also had some methadone at my place. I thought to myself that if things got too much, I could just take a taxi and go home. I also thought about keeping a little methadone secretly in my bag in order to take it in ʺan emergencyʺ. After praying, asking God for help and opening my Bible, I read the scripture in EPHESIANS 4:15, in which it says to be honest to each other. This led me to the decision not to do anything secretly.
The first few days, no problems occurred. We were happy and uplifted that I had no withdrawal symptoms. This led me to think that I would be freed very soon and easily. At the same time, I knew that with a methadone withdrawal, the problems only start appearing around the third day.
I begged my friends to give me some methadone
And precisely on the third day, it started. I started feeling physically unwell, uneasy and weak. I was alternatively freezing and then sweating. The battle had begun. While going through these stages, my friends prayed with me in the Holy Spirit, which definitely benefited me. At some point though, I'd had enough. It felt like the prayer didn’t really get us anywhere. It was possible that some people had indeed experienced this miracle of being delivered instantaneously and without pain, but it didn’t seem to work with me. I got to the point that I wanted something, and I wanted it now. Due to the symptoms I was experiencing, I could not care less about anything anyhow and thought that we could have another try on some later occasion. I begged my friends to give me some methadone. Through care and love, they tried to stay strong and not give me anything. It was a real battle for them too as they wanted to make the right decisions and not give up at this stage after having gotten this far. With a heavy heart my friends eventually gave in and went to get me some methadone. These few minutes felt as if they were hours. They gave me a tiny dosage of methadone of 1 ml. I felt a bit alleviated, but also thought that I might never get fully freed from my addiction.
Then something strange happened. God started to take the situation into his hands.
The success rate of recovering drug addicts is minimal. What’s more sad is that in some cases, after a relapse, the addiction is worse than before. I knew this too well from my five prior attempts to get off drugs. If I didn’t go through with it this time, it would mean a relapse that would take me back not only onto methadone but probably also other drugs. My doctor knew what she was talking about when she told me not to try going cold turkey.
But I didn’t relapse. I am not even sure if that little bit of methadone had any effect at all. I was angry, as it was about one-sixth of my usual dosage at that time, and only one-twelfth of what I used to take about six months ago. It felt like an attack: I was full of unbelief and doubt. My friends however did not give up. They prayed a lot for me during this time. Their love, care, warmth and closeness, and of course, God’s power, which answered all the prayers, brought me through this time. The next day, I took another dosage of 1 ml, the day after that 0.5 ml, after that 0.3. On the seventh day, I once again took nothing at all.
God Cleanses Me
This scripture draws a connection between drugs and witchcraft
During this whole time, I was reminded of a few issues that I had been through in my past. I brought them before God in my prayers and tackled them. For the first time in my life I realized that drug abuse was sin. I wasn’t just a victim of my circumstances or of my past, I was also an "offender" who had contributed to my fate. I really wanted change now, which I couldn’t do by myself. I needed a greater help. I asked God for forgiveness because I had rebelled against him for years by taking drugs. I was sure that God didn’t want me to take drugs anymore. There are a few scriptures in the Bible that speak against drug abuse. For example, it says in GALATIANS 5:20-21,
"Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in the time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." The word ʹwitchcraftʹ is translated from the Greek word ʹpharmakiaʹ. Literally it means ʹdrugsʹ and the word ‘pharmacyʹ, which we also use, is derived from it. This scripture draws a connection between drugs and witchcraft, sorcery and other occult and spiritual practices through which one can find access to a different sphere. One can even have contact with spirits by using one of these means, including the use of drugs. A very similar scripture is found in REVELATIONS 21:8. The word ʹsorcerersʹ is translated from the Greek word ʹpharmakeusʹ. I increasingly began to understand that drug abuse was forbidden by God as he cares about us. He has an even better way for us to get in contact with the spiritual world. He, Jesus Christ, is the way Himself. As Lord and King above all, He says in JOHN 14:6,
"I am the way, the truth, and the life…"
In order to help my body with the detox, I made an effort to eat extra healthy during that week by having fresh vegetables and freshly pressed fruit juices and other good things. After the seventh day, I wasn’t taking any methadone anymore. What also helped me immensely on this journey, was listening to some pleasant Christian music. I had been inspired by the story in 1 SAMUEL 16:23 which describes the positive effect music can have on us and our spirit, and I had now experienced it myself.
Finally, on the eighth day the miracle happened: I woke up in the morning and was completely free of any symptoms. I got up, left my room and walked over to my friends and spontaneously shouted "I am free!!" It was incredible! Everyone rejoiced with me and saw a big, beaming, triumphant smile on my face.
With clinical methadone withdrawal it usually takes many months until the withdrawal symptoms disappear. Many people relapse as I did in the past, because they just feel empty inside. I now had Jesus in my heart and life. JOHN 14:23,
"If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." This is the huge difference… ! Jesus says in JOHN 10:10,
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." I can feel this and experience it... I received more from God than I thought, not only freedom from physical withdrawal, but also psychologically. Jesus also says:
"I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." JOHN 12:46
This same day I poured all the methadone which my friends had looked after for me down the sink. Afterwards, I phoned my daughter at home and told her to also pour away all the methadone which I still had in my fridge. I had quite a bit stockpiled at home, including tablets, which I then also threw away.
After the successful withdrawal I went to my doctor in the substitution clinic. He reacted with great disbelief and took a laboratory test. The test results showed that there were no more drugs in my blood. There it was on the certificate ("clean certificate") in black and white: all tests were negative! Now I know that Jesus really sets people free. If we trust Him and act accordingly – then He heals us. Despite my doubts and unbelief, He stayed faithful – He looked at my heart. I am now completely free, I have neither had the physical desire for dope nor the inner psychological urge to take drugs. Instead I have inner peace and joy! Through this I have also learnt that sometimes we need to fight to receive answer to prayer and to obtain complete victory. REVELATION 21:7
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."
I have now started a new journey through life with Jesus. There are many things for me to learn and to understand, also things which I have to change in my life. To live a “normal” life without drugs is a big challenge at first. It is actually starting at zero and the reality, which I used to escape from through drugs, can sometimes hit me very hard. I look at destroyed relationships, unemployment, lost years, debts etc. One by one I have the courage to tackle these things, to change them, to improve them. This does not work on my own. Together with my friends in the assembly we have for example renovated my flat, which was already very old and grey from the many years of smoking. Now everything is beautiful and new and I am happy to come home and it is fun to be able to invite friends.
After I reported my boss to the Police, much corruption was uncovered in his life. Later it came to a court case in which I had to give evidence. The court case turned out completely in Franz’s favour and he was reimbursed for his money. The judge praised our attitude and effort and sentenced my former boss for his malice and deceit towards an honest, disabled craftsman who is fighting for his daily bread. Of course I had lost my own job. I wanted to start work again and together with my friends I started job hunting. I was afraid of going to job interviews on my own, I was afraid of being rejected, I was afraid of not coping with the demands. For many years my habit had been to withdraw and avoid daily life. But fellowship with my friends, many positive things which we do together, working with the Bible, prayer – all this is changing me step by step. My self-confidence has already improved a lot. I thought I didn't deserve such a good life.
I used to think that I am too low for my Christian friends; I thought the others would look down on me. Jesus indeed makes everything new! I now have also found work which I enjoy. I am working in mobile health care which can be real back-breaking work. But I enjoy it and I can give a lot to others. I care for old and sick people and can often also pray for them. Some miracles have already happened. One of my patients is an old woman with Alzheimer’s who can hardly remember anything. Since I have prayed for her, she even recognises me again and remembers details of when we met. Slowly my way is leading back to the life which I should have led right from the beginning. I thank God for this.
God’s Strength and Love is Also There for You
Often I go and visit my old friends who I knew when I still took drugs and tell them about God’s power and how God set me free. I hope and pray that many people will experience this amazing miracle and will get to know Jesus Christ. I did not manage it through my own strength, but God helped me powerfully. 1 CORINTHIANS 1:18,
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
If You Are in a Similar Situation to the one I Was in: Never Give Up!
Consider the following Bible verses: The scripture in REVELATION 21:8 explains that people who consistently take drugs will have no place in the kingdom of God. In 1 SAMUEL 15:23 we read:
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of God, he hath also rejected thee...” ... unless you turn around before it is too late. The true sin behind taking drugs is rebellion against God, and God will one day hold us all accountable for our lives.
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."
"And this is the condemnation, that light is to come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light , because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.."
Come to the Light, Come to Jesus, Before it is too Late.
I hope and pray that my words will help you. Start talking to God... get to know Him, he wants to help you. You are welcome to write me an email, if you are looking for help, and I guarantee that I will answer! If you live in Munich or somewhere nearby, we can of course meet up face to face.
In Jesus' Love, Sabine.
And my daughter? She observed me changing, partly sceptical, partly surprised. She often came to meetings and heard and saw a lot about God and His work. One year after my successful withdrawal from drugs, my daughter turned to Jesus and repented, and received the Holy Ghost and of course was baptised. She said that what impressed her the most was not my successful withdrawal from drugs, but the unbelievable change I went through.