Freed from the bondage of drug addiction

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This is Part II of a series about Rev. Milton E. Williams, Pastor of New Life Evangelical Baptist Church and the church’s Turning Point Clinic located in East Baltimore.

Penny Wooten was afraid she was going to die. The Baltimore native had a $1500 per week drug habit. “And that was a bad week,” added Wooten. According to Wooten, she did “anything necessary” to feed her addiction, including prostituting, stealing, and lying. “I had been through several attempts at recovery, but wasn’t successful,” recalled Wooten. “I would get clean but couldn’t stay clean. After more than 20 years of chasing drugs, I was just tired. I didn’t want to die in addiction, but it was starting to look that way.”

Today, Wooten, 49, has been drug-free for 10 years. She no longer has cravings for the heroin, crack cocaine, and marijuana that controlled her life. Wooten said she was able to “overcome” her drug addiction thanks to Turning Point Clinic.

Operated by New Life Evangelical Baptist Church located at 2401 E. North Ave., Turning Point Clinic is a faith-based substance abuse clinic. Turning Point Clinic currently has approximately 1,800 patients with 39 licensed and certified clinicians. According to Rev. Milton E. Williams, Pastor of New Life Evangelical Baptist Church, Turning Point is the largest methadone clinic under one roof in Maryland.

“I had gotten high, but saw a newspaper about a spiritual, faith-based methadone program,” recalled Wooten. “I took the newspaper home and read it. My mother used to tell me ‘you need God,’ so I thought this program sounded like something I needed. However, the article did not include a phone number, and I didn’t know how to get in touch with them.”

She continued, “Two weeks had passed since I read the article. I was living in West Baltimore, but had gone over to East Baltimore to cop some drugs. I looked up and saw a big sign on a building that said Turning Point Clinic. I got the number and started calling them relentlessly. I called them every day, and even sent them faxes. I was persistent, and determined that I was going to get in.”

Wooten’s persistence paid off. She was admitted to the clinic, which recently admitted its 5,000th patient.

“I was the ninth person to come into the clinic when it opened,” recalled Wooten. “I was very persistent because I knew I was going to die or kill myself if I didn’t get help.”

The goal of Turning Point Clinic is to provide substance abuse treatment for heroin addicts and assist them in recovering from their addiction, and begin to lead normal, productive lives. The clinic provides medication-assisted treatment for addicts, thereby reducing the rate of crime in the neighborhoods it serves.

“Turning Point Clinic had some of the best counselors I have ever met in any program,” said Wooten. “They were just as hardcore as I was. I couldn’t lie or get over on them. Some of them were former addicts who had been 30 years clean, and they knew all the tricks I knew, and they were not having it. I needed that type of structure and stability. They knew what to say and what to do to get the job done, and they were serious about what they were doing.”

The mission of Turning Point Clinic is to restore the quality of life to individuals, families and communities who are affected by drug abuse and drug dependence through the provision of treatment and support services. The clinic’s core values include religion and spirituality, which the program stresses in all areas of life, particularly in successful and lasting recovery from drug addiction.

“In the other programs, we can’t talk about God, but in this program, we can,” said Wooten. “We were all familiar with God, and not a ‘higher power’ as they referred to in the other programs. Turning Point Clinic let me know that I could attain and maintain being drug-free only through Christ Jesus. I would need to submit and surrender, and Turning Point Clinic taught me how to do all of those things.”

She added, “Having a church upstairs in the building also helped. Because of my addiction, I didn’t feel comfortable going to my own church. When I heard Rev. Williams preach, I was so impressed, and they showed me so much love. I said, ‘Wow, these people are real.’ I was calm and relaxed, and no longer sick and running around trying to get my fix. I was finally able to listen to what was being said to me. Now, my ears and mind were open, because I was no longer getting high.”

She added, “So many who have come through Turning Point Clinic have walked the same path I have walked. It’s not just me. There are many others who have the same testimony I have. There is something special in that place, and it’s God.”

For more information about Turning Point Clinic, call 410-675-2113 extension 226.

This series will continue with more of Wooten’s story, and more of the work being done by Turning Point Clinic.