Virtual Voices

Opening doors to recovery

Compassion

For many college students, weekend parties that feature drugs and alcohol look harmless at first. But for Brian Crispin the party life at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, was the first step on a downward slope that took him to the brink of homelessness.

It wasn't that Crispin had any real complaints about his upbringing in West Chester, Ohio. Partying just seemed more glamorous.

"Drinking does bring results," said Crispin, who is now a staff member at Wheeler Mission in Indianapolis. "Drinking changes your personality. When you're depressed, it'll lift your spirits for a short time. It's a quick fix. Eventually you can't remember how to have fun without alcohol."

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He drank even more when he finished school and started work in Florida. "I'd start fine with a new company until my lies caught up with me," he said.

Moving back to Ohio, he thought he might bail himself out of his troubles by hitting the slot machines at Southern Indiana riverboat casinos. He borrowed $600 with a payday loan and spent two weeks at the Argosy casino in Lawrenceburg.

"I was hoping to take the $600 and turn it into $10,000," he said.

Instead, the casinos took his money.

He faced debts and charges of driving under the influence. With no place to stay, he slept in his car a few nights.

Near the bottom, he called his parents, who were willing to help but made it clear that they were not interested in indulging his lifestyle. A pastor recommended that Crispin try the tough love at Wheeler Mission in Indianapolis. Wheeler counselor Dwayne Gordon warned him: "If you don't stop, you'll be dead or in prison."

At Wheeler, the discipline of the Hebron Addiction Recovery program helped Crispin overcome bad habits, and he came to a commitment to Christ.

Crispin, who now works for the mission in development, recently organized a campout event on the American Legion Mall in Indianapolis, which included a performance by former Indianapolis Colts punter Hunter Smith and his band. The goal of the third annual Camp Out to Stamp Out Homelessness was to raise awareness for the mission and Outreach Inc., a ministry for homeless teens. More than 400 people turned out, with 160 who camped out.

For Crispin, it was also an opportunity to reach out and open doors of recovery for others who struggle with alcohol and are looking for a way out.

Russ Pulliam
Russ Pulliam

Russ is a columnist for The Indianapolis Star, the director of the Pulliam Fellowship, and a member of God's World Publications' board of directors.

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