Handcuffed by addiction
LaGRANGE — Hundreds of people came to Lafayette Square on Saturday to hear the stories of recovering addicts and local leaders to find spiritual support for those struggling with addiction.
The event was the second for Break Every Chain, started by recovering addict Kelly Camp. The events are aimed at inspiring others and encouraging recovery and prevention.
Ray Ham, a LaGrange police investigator, was one of the speakers at Saturday’s event. Stressing that he was off duty when he spoke, Ham referred to the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible and the importance of support and companionship.
“I have here a list of statistics, the number of arrests for drug and alcohol offenses over the last calendar year,” he told the crowd as he held up the piece of paper and then crumpled it into a ball. “I don’t need to read those, because we know we have a problem.”
He cited the Department of Health and Human Services, saying children are four times more likely to become drug addicts and alcoholics being raised by one parent, and eight times the risk if their parent uses some type of drug. With him as he spoke was 11-year-old Jamie Clark, whom he used for a demonstration. He asked her mother, Tammy Carroll, to come and handcuff her daughter, then had the girl kneel on the ground.
“If that mom uses drugs, she just did this to her 11-year-old daughter,” he said, pointing to the young girl. “I can bet you a paycheck, I will bet you a year’s salary, this 11 year old will have a problem with drugs when her mother has a problem with drugs and handcuffs her at the age of 11. This is not a mom and daughter problem, this is our problem … We had nothing to do with this mom inducting her child to addiction, but we’re supposed to fix it.”
Ham said he hoped the imagery and statistics upset people and spur them to action.
“I am going to challenge you today to take that anger that you feel, and turn it into energy to help us solve the problem, because this is our problem,” he said. “It’s breaking my heart to see an 11 year old handcuffed on the ground beside me. I hope it keeps you awake tonight.”
He called the girl’s mother up and handed her the key to take her daughter out of handcuffs.
“The official code of Georgia law is not the key. The key to the jailhouse cell is not key. The key is the only key available, it’s been around since the beginning of time, it’s called God’s word,” Ham said. “I’m not asking you to be perfect this day forward, not one of us is righteous, but not to stay in a ditch. Reach up and ask for a hand out of the ditch.”
Wanda Walker, part of the group Troup Transformation, has run a prison ministry for years, and some of the speakers, including event coordinator Camp, are some of the former inmates she ministered to over the years. She was thrilled with the showing on the square Saturday.
“People are excited, excited to come hear the testimony,” she said during the event. “… It’s just a celebration of what God’s done to set people free of addiction.”
ReBorn, a nonprofit out of Newnan, was one of the ministries present at the event. A new ministry, ReBorn focuses on helping bolster people’s spiritual growth and improvement through community support.
“We are here to support hope, support recovery, support churches and support personal growth,” said Carlos Cannon, co-founder of ReBorn. “Only through challenging their limitations can people become the best version of themselves.”
Walker said she hoped attendees left with a better sense of purpose and hope.
“I hope (people) take home that when they know who they are in Christ, when they know who God is … they know the chains of addiction are broken from them, and they can walk away from that,” she said.