Ross Poel, 27, started his downward spiral by using a variety of drugs in his teens. Eventually he was shooting heroin daily, despite several brushes with death by overdose.
His church, Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Grandville, Mich., had no idea what was happening until Ross and his parents spoke publicly earlier this spring. About 70 people came to hear their story.
Ross’ parents, William and Kathy Poel, got him into many different treatment programs, but nothing worked. In shame, they struggled in silence.
“Many parents tend to live in their own private hell, usually too embarrassed to share such a story,” said William, a probation officer for the state of Michigan who knows the often-bleak prognosis for heroin addicts.
“It’s a feeling of loneliness and hard to talk about. Our friends had no idea,” he said.
Finally, in 2010, after ten years of struggle, William and Kathy heard of a treatment center called Consultorios de Medicina Integral Abasto in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Desperate for healing, Ross was on a plane 24 hours later. The treatment program tailored to his particular needs proved effective.
“The happiness, joy, and freedom—that’s a much higher and more pure sensation than any chemical can give you,” Ross said.
Ross has spoken in other venues besides his church and plans to write a book and open a nonprofit to help others find freedom. “God gave me a beautiful and powerful gift to do his work,” Poel said.
Likewise, Kathy and William want to reach out to hurting parents. “It’s hard to share, but once you get over the hump, just to talk about it is helpful. People think they are alone in this, but they aren’t,” William said.