MUNCIE, Ind. — At a gathering where coping with substance abuse is a primary topic of discussion, no one holds an audience’s attention more than someone who has lived through the hell of addiction and come out the other side.
A case in point is local resident Brian Bell, who with his wife Jennifer founded The Road to Redemption, a support group for both those who abuse substances and their families.
Bell on Wednesday was a featured speaker at the Third Annual Delaware County Symposium of Substance Use Disorders, held at Ball State University.
Bell, a longtime musician, discussed his own decline into addiction, He didn’t take his first drink of alcohol until he was 27 years old.
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“It was like that little snowball at the top of the mountain,” he recalled.
At age 33, he ingested an illegal drug — cocaine — for the first time. From there, things quickly went downhill.
He displayed a series of jail mug shots taken when his substance abuse led to a series of arrests.
Bell said he entered into a period of his life where he was “horrible” to his family.
By October 2012, he had been homeless for nearly a year, staying at times in a southside storage unit.
A seizure that month resulted in Bell’s being taken to the hospital, where his blood-alcohol level was measured at a potentially lethal 0.47.
“They didn’t think I would make it through,” he said. Bell went into a coma, and was hospitalized for an extended period.
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His family was devastated by his condition, but would not allow him to stay at their homes while he was actively using drugs, likely setting the stage for events that would save his life.
With nowhere else to go, Bell landed at the Muncie Mission — and experienced “the first night that I ever had true peace.”
His stay at the Mission would set him on his own road to redemption.
A chance encounter with a former girlfriend lost due to domestic violence committed while he a substance abuser set for a reunion with, and eventual marriage to, Jennifer, a chain of events Bell views as an answer to a prayer.
“From there, he got everything back,” Jennifer Bell said. “One step at a time. … Things just started going from there.”
His recovery eventually led to an associate’s degree from Ivy Tech Community College. The former prisoner is now an honorary deputy with the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department.
The Road to Redemption was established about a half-dozen years ago, and now hosts weekly meetings aimed at helping both those with addiction issues and their family members.
“We don’t have a program,” said Brian Bell. “We have a family. … We are connected to everyone forever. No matter what. Whether people have relapsed or anything else, the key is not to make them feel horribly embarrassed.”
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The Bells were two of several speakers at the day-long symposium, hosted by the Addictions Coalition of Delaware County and held at the BSU Student Center.
From 2021:‘Everybody is in recovery for something’: Recovery Café operates in downtown Muncie
Included were participants in other faith-based recovery programs
Also featured was a panel discussion featuring community leaders in law enforcement, medical organizations and agencies that provide support, in terms of shelter and other areas, for those in need.
“We do recognize that homelessness, addiction and mental health, they all are interconnected,” said WaTasha Barnes Griffin, CEO of the YWCA Central Indiana.
Douglas Walker is a news reporter at The Star Press. Contact him at 765-213-5851 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.