May 23, 2018
By Luke Merideth, Fellow

I have been a medic, a nurse, an electrician, a drug dealer and a chaplain. That last career change was, of course, the most substantial. This is the story of how I overcame drug addiction and am now helping others do the same.

I don’t remember a time when my mother was not on drugs, and I do remember being hungrier than I should have been. Though my mother struggled, she taught my siblings and me how to love others even when she was not very good to herself. I moved out when I was 16 years old, forging paperwork to sign myself into high school as a minor.

Once I was in the military I soon found a camaraderie and acceptance I had been looking for. I wasn’t the poor kid, I was an equal. There was no black or white or brown, we were all green. (Or blue, or tan, depending on which uniform we were wearing, but you get the idea.)

Then came 9/11…Afghanistan…Iraq. I had no idea what to do. What I found is that all of the people getting deployed with me to a war zone were regular human beings like me. We banded together and did the job, but the job was ugly.

I was a Naval Hospital Corpsman deployed in support of the Marines to Al Qi’Im, a city in Iraq near the border of Syria. We received mortar fire, but much worse were the casualties from the patrols in town.

I ate breakfast with friends and then saw them die on my table hours later. We banded together and we did the job, the ugly job, and we decided to bottle it up and feel it later.

It took a while… but later came.

I was a civilian nurse when I started diverting drugs from work, I soon discovered the numbing effects, and soon I was not a nurse. My addiction brought me to a place of unemployment, and it got so bad that I had three heart attacks before I was 26 years old. I was filling the syringe with both meth and heroin, and injecting that mixture 3 to 5 times a day.

After 5 years of drug abuse I had my second child, my daughter Cadence (my first child, Christian, was born before my enlistment). Her birth motivated me to go to the Phoenix Dream Center (PDC) to straighten out my life.

After 5 years of drug abuse I had my second child, my daughter Cadence (my first child, Christian, was born before my enlistment). Her birth motivated me to go to the Phoenix Dream Center (PDC) to straighten out my life.

The PDC provides Christianity-based residential recovery services — and so I thought I would give God a chance. I grew up agnostic, and after studying I came to a place where science and history have convinced me that a loving God exists and that he didn’t make me to live that life. So I decided to work for the guy and serve people as a chaplain at the PDC. (The pay is not too great working for God but I read somewhere that the retirement is pretty legit.)

 

Paying it Forward with The Mission Continues

Luke Merideth, The Mission Continues

Luke Merideth volunteering at the PDC

I have been empowered and encouraged by The Mission Continues. It has been instrumental in my success the last few years by providing me with a community and a mission. I have been built up by serving others in community service projects, mass deployments to other cities, and life-long connections with other veterans.

I am currently in The Mission Continues Fellowship Program, which supports my volunteering at the PDC as the Chief Strategy Officer, providing coaching and guidance to bring me to the next level.

I have been empowered and encouraged by The Mission Continues. It has been instrumental in my success the last few years by providing me with a community and a mission.

The Phoenix Dream Center houses over 300 people every night, for free, in various recovery programs. We serve over 12,000 meals in a week, also free. I have had the privilege of working closely with the local government to measurably affect homelessness, addiction, sex trafficking, and at-risk youth in my city.

I GET to serve MY city.

I have changed my identity. My name is not dealer, criminal, failure or addict. My name is Luke Merideth and I am a father, a husband, a student, a reverend, and a person who loves the excitement of this life.

In my blended family I provide for teenagers (Christian is now a teen) and toddlers, and am married to an amazing woman who I can only keep hoping to deserve someday. Of course, it was my daughter Cadence, who is now 6 years old, who was the driving force for me obtaining sobriety; she and her little sister Crimson have only known me happy, healthy and sober.

I acquired my first degree in 2017, with the highest distinction, and I am working on my second at a large university, with a 4.0 GPA.

I have come a long way from near death experiences, to being happy to be alive, to now reaching my goals and loving life. I hope that my story inspires you to believe that you are never too far gone or too low to make it back again. You or someone you know may have a long climb out, but be advised, it is worth the climb.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story, and many blessings to you.

In Service,
Chaplain Luke Merideth