TAZEWELL, VA (WVNS) – Addiction continues to be a struggle for people across the nation, and the fight to help those who suffer because of it continues, especially here in Appalachia.

In Tazewell County, Pastor Steve Branch put his church on the front lines of battling addiction with Destiny Outreach Ministries. We at 59News have started a four part series called Faith and Recovery: Breaking the Chains of Addiction. The series is focused on places like Destiny Outreach Ministries, which are striving to battle addiction up close and personal.

59News had the opportunity to speak with Jill Howell, a woman who struggled with addiction for 18 years until she says she found God.

“Without God, I wouldn’t have my sobriety. I wouldn’t have my family. I wouldn’t be here. My name is Jill Howell. I struggled with substance use for 18 years and bid in recovery for three. I grew up in a really amazing home. I was my mom, dad and my older brother. As a teenager I really struggled with self esteem issues. I would catch myself comparing myself to every other teenage girl in my class and in my high school I always felt like I wasn’t good enough or I wasn’t pretty enough. Also, when I started going through things in my teenage years, my parents did separate at one point and I didn’t really have the skills to cope with things like that. So that started my downfall.”

Jill Howell

Howell spoke about her first experiences with prescription medication, and how it became a part of her daily life because of the way it made her feel.

“I was offered some pain medication when I was 16 years old. I took that medicine and during a during a time I was really going through a whole lot. This pill it seemed to be the instant fix. I became numb. I didn’t feel the hurt in the pain that I had been going through. I had a boldness about me. I had started using on a daily basis and I didn’t even realize it had turned into a problem until I graduated high school and I went away to college for my first year after I figured out that it was a problem. You know, I wanted to stop, but it seemed as if nothing I tried ever seemed to work. I was in and out. Rehab programs I did in patient treatment I did out patient treatment. I would fail consistently it was just a really vicious cycle.”

Jill Howell

The vicious cycle Howell describes would end, however, once she found Destiny Outreach Ministries.

“When I was lost to addiction, I had made my way to Destiny Outreach and I heard a lady give her testimony and tell that that’s how she found freedom from her addiction. So for me during that time to see somebody that found freedom and how they found it planted a seed. So when I got incarcerated and I knew that I was just tired and I wanted a different way for me, I knew in my heart that had to be God. And now when I see people who has just lost hope, I want to be the person that breathes life into the home. I went and I took my 72 hour peer recovery class.”

Jill Howell

Head Pastor Steve Branch spoke on the work that Jill Howell is now doing for Destiny Outreach Ministries.

“To go out and train other people to turn to reach out into our community that is the greatest army and to meet people like Jill is one of the key leaders of generals, and there’s so many others in this community, but she’s one of them.”

Head Pastor Steve Branch

I’m really transparent with my kids because I want them to know you’re going to make mistakes but we find our power from God. If you have conviction in your heart, you know you know when you’re making wrong choices.  What the enemy sent to destroy me is now what God’s using for his glory to not only provide for my family, but just to provide a purpose in my life. 

Jill Howell