DETROIT (WXYZ) - The epidemic of drug abuse in this country is growing by leaps and bounds.
Drug overdose deaths from heroin and pain killers are up about 14 percent in Michigan, according to the latest state data.
Our Persons of the Week have a started a program to save lives from the downward spiral of addiction.
Whether the addiction is from something you smoke, shoot up, swallow or drink from a bottle, the path to stop can sometimes seem unending. Some people believe it takes a higher power to stop a drug addiction that can reach down in your soul.
In 2014 nearly 1,800 people in Michigan died from drug overdoses and 132 of them were from Detroit.
Drug addiction is color blind, it doesn't matter your age, your race, whether you're male of female. It takes control of your life and leads you down a path to nowhere.
That's why every Thursday night at Greater Grace Church in Detroit a group of about 75 people gather to break free from drug addiction. It's a unique church ministry which teaches people to stay positive, free of drugs, and they work on addictive behaviors that got them into trouble.
Most who come have hit rock bottom. They're usually in one of four area treatment facilities, some simply walk in from the street and some are on probation.
Constance Moton is one of them. She started using crack cocaine at age 11. She say when she was young she was chasing her mom around, a mom who was already addicted to drugs.
Constance is now 43, she had 12 children and lost custody of them all. She's been raped, beaten, prostituted and jailed.
Constance says, "I was in and out of prison about six times from not reporting because of my drug use."
Constance came to Greater Grace after the rigors of street life nearly killed her.
Bishop Charles Ellis allowed Associate Pastor Howard Sturgis and his wife, Lisa, to start this ministry four years ago.
Pastor Sturgis says, "We thank God for him. He's a man of God. He helps out with the community. Without the church and without him this would not be possible."
Those who come are given dinner, snacks, picked up and returned home on buses all free of charge. Most important they're shown love without being judged.
Like those who sit before him, Pastor Sturgis had to find his way out of the darkness. He says growing up poor in New Orleans' Ninth Ward, he started smoking weed at 11 by age 20 he was hooked on crack cocaine.
Pastor Sturgis says, "I took a hit and it was like my life changed it gave me a feeling that I had never felt before and I really loved the feeling."
He would stay hooked on drugs for 17 years. What he saw in the mirror was a prince but, in reality, Pastor Sturgis says, "I was a grown man at 95 pounds. grown man 6 feet, 95 pounds, you can imagine what I looked like."
Then one day.
Pastor Sturgis says, "I looked at myself and I said 'This is enough'."
After walking 32 miles to get to a treatment center, he would spend more than a year in treatment, with no family support. He said he had to break free on his own, making only enough from the treatment facility's car wash to survive.
Pastor Sturgis says he never smoked again. His family's home was swept away by Hurricane Katrina - along with the remnants of his past life.
Pastor Sturgis says, "I had left my crack pipe. The day you cross the door step is the day you relapse."
During a trip to Detroit he met his wife, Lisa, and not too long after Detroit became his home too.
Lisa says, "It's really kind of scared me, because I didn't know that lifestyle. I didn't know anything about drugs, so that really got me."
He told her to stay clean himself, his mission would always be to help others fight the same demons that nearly killed him, and Lisa agreed to stand by his side.
Lisa says, "When I would come to the meetings, I was like 'God how can you use me, you know, in this meeting because I really don't know anything about drugs'."
Lisa says, she was amazed how she was really changing lives in a positive way.
Thousands have come through this ministry and many stay at their transitional home for women. They are given clothes, job leads and a new start.
Constance is completing a training program for urban farming.
Pastor Sturgis says, "We want to continue that process from day one, when they come in until they get back as a productive citizen in society living their life of holiness for God."
For changing lives through a higher power, we choose Associate Pastor Howard Sturgis and his wife, Lisa, as our Persons of the Week.
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