My name is Leanna Murphy. I live in Danville, Kentucky, and am a Community Liaison for Addiction Recovery Care.

My story of redemption began on July 8, 2017. Prior to that, my life had become unmanageable. My parents were divorced when I was 6 months old. I have four brothers, one sister, and a stepbrother. My childhood was good for the most part. 

Some of it was also damaging, mostly because of the secrets I was forced to keep. I lived through emotional, sexual, and physical abuse starting at a very young age. I began to lash out and defy my parents at the age of 13. I had my first drink at 13 and my first drug at 14.

I think the reason I continued to use, after the first time, was to please the people I was surrounded by. It was all a “party” to me and also a way to gain attention from my family. I was put into foster care around that same time.

I went from group home to group home, detention centers, foster families, and boarding schools. I never felt like I fit in anywhere. At 15, my life changed. My best friend was shot and killed at a field party. That is when my using shifted from being “fun” to using in order to numb my pain. I now used to cope with feelings of guilt, shame, loneliness, and remorse.

I landed in a military school at 17 and liked the structure. I obtained my GED and finally felt excited about my life. For once, I felt a sense of confidence. I decided to join the United States Marine Corps. I met a man who I viewed as a father figure. He helped me in every way. Two days prior to me leaving for Parris Island, S.C., I was sexually assaulted by this man and his friend.

I felt so much pain and embarrassment. I was terrified that if I reported this that I would no longer be allowed to leave for the military … so, I held it in and pressed on. I loved the Marine Corps and thought I had found my family and career. I had been dealing with a lot of medical issues that came as a result of the assault.

Eventually, the doctor prescribed me pain medication. It didn’t take long for me to begin using alcohol and prescription pain medication in order to numb my feelings that I had suppressed. About two years into my journey as a Marine, I was discharged for misuse of a prescription drug.

Once again, I was lost with no hope for a future. Years went by – and so did more than 20 arrests. I was living in a very dark world. After having my child in 2011, I was convinced that my addiction was behind me. But I was in a very toxic relationship with his father, and the only way I knew how to cope was to continue drinking and using nerve medication.

On July 8, 2017, I drove my car for four hours in a total blackout. I totaled my vehicle in a small town near Chicago. I woke up in jail knowing that this was it for me. Here I was facing my fifth DUI, two felonies, and detoxing from alcohol and benzodiazepines alone on a jail floor.

I had nothing left. I had made the decision to die. I saw something on the ground in that jail cell – a piece to a drill that maintenance must have accidentally dropped. That is how I was going to do it. I had a plan in place and was seconds away from going through with it.

While I was crying out to God, I heard His voice clear as day. He intervened for me that day. I will forever be grateful for His miraculous power to speak to me. Two weeks later, due to filing mistakes, the judge had no other option but to release me on an “own recognizance” bond until my next court date.

I was able to make it to my son’s first day of kindergarten; God knew that we both needed that. I ended up in Karen’s Place. My plan was to stay for 30 days. I laugh now because it’s been three years and I am still with the company. I began healing all my pain. My relationship with God became my Number One priority.

I think sometimes people have this vision of “once you get off the drugs and alcohol, life will be perfect.” That is not the case at all.

However, when negative things happen, you take the tools you learn while in treatment and the strength from God to get you through it. I no longer have to rely on any drink or drug to get me through pain.

Six months into my sobriety, I experienced a pain beyond belief. My brother committed suicide. I was in a state of shock for many days. I can look back on that moment today and see where God was. My brother was no longer suffering from his depression. I was able to get through that time without using. My brother left me with the greatest gift I could ask for – confidence in myself.

I know now that when things come my way, I can get through them. If I got through that tragedy without using, I can get through anything. My life today is beautiful. I have an amazing job, a home, and vehicle. I regained joint custody of my son. I am now a full-time student at Liberty University studying evangelism and religion. I take vacations and volunteer places.

I never could have imagined that I would have this kind of freedom today. I thank God for programs like ARC, programs that focus not only on the clinical side of treatment, but on the spiritual side as well.