The Eyewitness News initiative “A Community in Pain” continued on Wednesday. On Eyewitness News at 4, Brad Byrd spoke with a woman winning her battle against opioids.
Here’s a transcription of the interview:
Brad: Shelley, I’m standing next to a proud Tri-State mother. A mother of two beautiful kids, ages 8 and 4. This is Brittney Winters, who’s had a remarkable life in so many ways. She’s turned her life around and is really a role model for anyone who may be addicted to any kind of substance or drug. Brittney, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. You had to come to a reckoning with the problem you had and it came at a point in your life where your life was ahead of you.
Brittney: I initially got clean in 2008. I was pregnant with my son who’s 8. It was a very difficult thing to do without a 12-step program. But I managed to stay clean for 8 years. Like all addictions, it doesn’t go away unless you fix the problem. I never really fixed the problem. I knew it was always there. I had a relapse and until now, having a 12-program and having Churches Embracing Offenders (CEO), that’s been what has saved me.
Brad: And you had told me this is God working through you in many ways.
Brittney: It is. One of my mentors told me ‘don’t be nervous.’ This isn’t a ‘look what Brittney can do’ story. Because all I can do is use and fail and get in trouble. This is a ‘look what God can do’ story. Really, that’s what it is because I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for God.
Brad: You have another mentor, your 8-year-old son. You told me a story about a ‘dope dealer’ vs. a ‘hope dealer.’
Brittney: It’s a shirt they sell in the Lighthouse Recovery Center. It says “Neighborhood Dope Dealer” but there’s a big red H through the “D” which is now translated to a “Hope Dealer.” In recovery, I think people have to turn to God. For one, the AA book and most recovery books, they’re basically Bible-based. With the Neighborhood Hope Dealer, it’s a way that those who’ve battled addictions can make others hopeful. You know, that there is an opportunity for you. You just have to get and up fight everyday for it.
Brad: And your children know you’re in recovery.
Brittney: They do. They go to AA meetings with me. I’m on ABK. I take my daughter with me there. It could be embarassing but it’s my story. It’s what I have to do.
Brad: They say, ‘kids say the darndest things,’ don’t they?
Brittney: They do. They do.
Brad: What have you learned from them in fighting this addiction?
Brittney: I’ve spent more time with my kids in the past 10 months than… I can’t even explain it, it’s every weekend. And I look at them and think, ‘how could I ever have failed them?’ They need me. Our kids need us.
Brad: You told me you were nervous to come up here and talk with me. You said, ‘what can I do? Somebody like me?’ I had a response to that. You’ve basically become a role model. And that can be a hope for people who are in your shoes in their darkest hour.
Brittney: Yeah, I believe that I can be. But people have to accept help though. It’s your ego and your pride.
Brad: And you got past that?
Brittney: Yeah, I’m way past it. I’m deep in this thing and service work is all we can do to continue our sobriety. We have to continue doing our service work, like me mentoring another girl or sponsoring another woman. We have to let them know they’re not alone because they’re not alone. I’ve been through half, if not everything they’ve been through, you know. If I haven’t I can sympathize or empathize with it.
Brad: Are your kids watching this right now?
Brittney: They probably are.
Brad: What would you tell them?
Brittney: That I love them more than anything. I actually have three children. I have an 18-year-old too and I’d hate for him to get left out.
Brad: I learn somethings during live interviews. I’m sure he’s behind you as well.
Brittney: He is. He’s a great support. He’s an adult so I have to lead by example.
Brad: Thank you so much for sharing your story.
Brittney: Thank you Brad.
(This story was originally published on January 24, 2018)