VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center is sharing a story of one of its graduates for national recovery month.
Michael Devon Alston, of Norfolk, says he has always had a troubled past. When he was just three months old, his parents left him at a bootlegger’s home.
“At nine, I began drinking beer,” said Alston. “At 10, I started marijuana and at 12 years old, I started snorting cocaine.”
Alston says he abused those drugs for more than 30 years, which came with many lost jobs, time in jail and a divorce.
Looking back, he believes he was abusing drugs because he was trying to cope with sexual abuse and insecurities like abandonment and low self-esteem.
“I thought it medicated the internal pain,” he said. “It numbed it, even though it would turn a lot worse but I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy because it kills just like cancer.”
Broken and desperate, Alston came to Salvation Army two years ago to start rehabilitation.
“It’s a facility that if you allow it to, it can change your life for the rest of your life,” said Alston. “You got to want this, thirst for this as much as you did for whatever it is, whatever that hurt is for the rest of your life.”
Alston graduates from the six-month program and says his life has forever changed and credits all to God. He took classes during the program that focused on mental, physical and spiritual health.
“[God] rebuilt me as a man. He gave me back integrity, respect, dignity [and] self worth,” he said.
Alston now works for the Salvation Army sharing his story with others that are enrolled in the same program. He also mentors children and has pushed himself to fulfill his childhood dreams of modeling and acting, including a small role in the Starz series “Homeland.”
“It’s not about the money, houses, cars [or] prestige, but about peace and being able to give back because of what He done for me. That’s what I live for today,” said Alston.
If you or someone you know needs help visit the Salvation Army online.