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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Faces & Places: One Day at a Time

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ben, Jessica and Miriam Karn Photo/Tammy Curtis
Ben Karn is the epitome of every parents nightmare, as well as every parents dream come true. Karn is a drug abuse nightmare's best success story and has been clean from substance abuse for nearly five years. He is a successful graduate of John 3:16 Ministries, a spiritual faith based treatment center for men with addictions and a poster person for overcoming even the worst addictions.

Karn has been clean and drug free since 2004, and has came down a long dark path to the life he enjoys today with his wife, daughter and a new son who will be born at the end of September. Considering the depth of his addictions to methamphetamine and alcohol, Karn is lucky to be alive and is helping with the campaign to keep Sharp County dry.

He said the reason he feels John 3:16 is so successful in their treatment of addictions is simply because it is based on faith and love of Jesus. Karn was raised in a good Christian family and vividly remembered sitting in church with his parents even at the darkest of times during his bout with addiction.

Karn said during his treatment, rather than be locked up and confined to a hospital type setting like many other treatment options, he was able to work and interact with others in a normal daily lifestyle.

Many do not understand that addiction is an illness and society tends to brand addicts as bad people, not good people who make bad choices. Karn said he had no real drug of choice during his addiction, but was merely, " a human garbage can, doing anything to escape reality." He refrained from telling what he called "war stories," related to the many shameful things he did while he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. He said since he was saved, he realizes that telling these stories and finding humor in them was wrong because it is like being proud of them, something he is definitely not.

Many wonder how one even begins the path of addiction and even more what leads some to recovery, while others are held prisoner to the addictions for a lifetime.

He said he hated what he had become because of the drugs, so much so, that he would have killed himself had it not been for having been raised Christian. He said he valued the morals instilled in him by his parents and was so ashamed of the things the drugs and alcohol had allowed him to do.

He said the drugs were an escape from reality and had become such a part of his life that he did not know how to live or interact with people who did not have the same type of lifestyle. Many drug addicts withdraw from their family and friends at this point in their addiction. Family members do not understand why, but Ben said it is just because they become a slave to the addiction, nothing else matters.

Karn said he got to the point in his life where he knew he was going to either have to die or get clean.

He explained the circumstances that led up to his entering treatment at John 3:16 and ultimately changing his entire life.

Karn was working and getting high every day at work. He said he had been on a binge of drinking and shooting meth when he overdosed on the drug and went home and got in the shower and remained there, fully clothed, for over eight hours. He said he dry heaved and vomited for hours. Following this episode, he said he stayed home from work to avoid being around the drugs. Karn said he knew if he didn't do something he was going to die and go to hell, something he feared since hearing the childhood sermons.

He said he stayed home for days, even when co-workers would come by and visit. Karn knew the environment at work and did not want to go back. He said he drank everything he had left in the house, and ran out of money, not even having enough to pay his rent. He had hallucinations and said, "By the grace of God, I didn't die."

After this event, he said he remembers calling his parents to help him get into John 3:16.

Karn entered treatment and got saved while in rehabilitation. He has turned his life over to God. He met his wife, Jessica, at a church garage sale a few years later. Karn said he went with a co-worker to pick up a weight bench. He laughed when saying all he could see was Jessica and she invited him to church.

Karn said the key to his remaining clean and sober has been God and his wife. He said he couldn't do it without them. "Every day is still a struggle," Karn said. Many people cannot understand the totality of the addiction over a person's life. Karn said, to this day, sometimes when he goes into work, at Wade's Refrigeration, and smells certain things, like starter fluid, it forces him to recall the dark days of his addiction and he must choose not to use over and over. He said, "It will haunt you forever." He does attribute his job to part of his success because it keeps him busy, another vital aspect to successful longterm recovery.

Karn and his family are also very active in their church family, Friendship Baptist Church. He also worked with Habitat for Humanity in Independence County. He is also working with the Coalition for the Future of Sharp County to keep alcohol sales out of the county. Karn said, "Some of the sorriest things I have ever done were on alcohol." He went on to explain, "Alcohol puts the judgement part of your brain to sleep, and when you are drunk, you lack judgement."

He also said that he got in more trouble over alcohol than anything else. Karn said he got five DUI's, wrecked and totaled three vehicles and spent time in jail as a result of his abuse of the drug. This is one reason he is so against the sale of it in the county, which is in the center of other dry counties.

Although the road to recovery has been rocky, to say the least, Karn has learned many lessons along the way. When asked what his greatest regret was about becoming an addict, he said, "Ignoring the Lord when he called me when I was young." He said he knew he wanted to become a Christian but said he thought, "I just wanted to live a little first." A decision that haunts him with vivid memories of the hell he went through during his bout with addiction.

Karn said he would like to take his life experiences and help others with their struggles. He said, "Drugs are a sin that takes you further than you want to go and keeps you longer."