A woman earnestly praying in church, rejoicing silhouette

Closer to God. My Recovery from Drug Addiction

Hi, I am a believer in Jesus Christ and recovery for substance abuse and other addictive behavior and my name is Mary Beth.

After I prayed for a verse that would be the best for my testimony God gave me the verses from Isaiah 55:6 and 7 NLT

“Seek the Lord while you can find him call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them yes turn to our God for he will forgive generously.”

This verse rings very true throughout my life in many ways as you will soon hear about.

I was born into a pretty dysfunctional family in Paterson, New Jersey on October 30th of 1982 my sister was born in 1986 and soon after we moved to Punta Gorda Florida. My biological father drank a lot and as I found out later also participated in using a lot of illegal drugs.

My mom had been abused by her adopted family when she was young and unfortunately hadn’t received help, so she acted out very aggressively towards my sister and me. This did not make for a very healthy family unit in almost every night my mother and my father would get in very physically abusive altercations which often brought the police to our door.

Right after my 7th birthday I had a friend over to spend the night and when we were all sleeping on the couch my dad sexually assaulted her. The next day she went to her parents, and they called the cops, and my bio father was arrested. I held a lot of guilt for that for years because I felt like because I knew how my dad was that I could have somehow protected her and stopped it from happening but after counseling for that I realized I was completely powerless over my dad’s actions.

When I was 10 my mom had gotten divorced and met a man and soon after married him. This man adopted my sister and I and took care of our family. The family definitely had its ups and downs, but it was stronger and better than it had ever been before.

While going to school I was always picked on cuz I was always quite a bit heavier than my peers. And I so desperately wanted to fit in. But I acted out only occasionally because I was definitely afraid of the repercussions, I would get from my mother who was still very physically abusive.

I was very involved in my church and youth group and has given my heart to Christ at the age of 10. In high school I never had a serious boyfriend even though I wanted one. So, I decided to quit focusing on boys and focus more on church.

After high school I became a student missionary to San Antonio Texas for 3 months working with underprivileged children and youth. I saw the effects of what drugs and alcohol did to families and swore I wouldn’t go down that path. While I was there, I was sure I was going to come home and go to college and become a medical missionary, but God had other plans.

I came home and got my CNA license and started working at a nursing home which is where I met my first husband. We were married within a year of knowing each other and pretty quickly moved to TN to start our lives together. I was happy to be free from my mother’s controlling abusive ways but with that freedom came a lot of problems.

At 21 years old I started experimenting with drugs and immediately my mom and husband thought they could fix me, so they got me involved in Celebrate Recovery. I had no willingness to change though. I so badly hated myself that I even tried hurting myself by jumping out a second story window which caused me to almost lose my foot and I had to have 5 surgeries which caused me to get even more deeper into my addiction. I did get involved in Long Hollow Celebrate Recovery and even got to meet John Baker at the one-day summit, but my cycle of addiction only got worse and followed us to Pennsylvania.

With my addiction also came a lot of infidelity and eventually even prostitution. Once again, my mom thought she could save me by moving us back to FL which actually caused my addiction to hit an ultimate low since I had now found iv drug addiction.

In 2011 I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into and was coerced into joining an escort service where I had experienced sex trafficking for the first time. I was blessed to have only endured that terrible abuse for only a short time since I was able to find a way to run away in the middle of the night.

In 2012 I became pregnant with our first child a little boy and I had only a very short amount of sobriety at the time but was blessed to find out very early in the pregnancy. That October our little boy was born and although we struggled with his behaviors, life was still pretty good for the most part. We were attending Edgewater church and I was attending the Celebrate Recovery meetings and even finished the first step study that was open to the church.

in 2014 I had had a small relapse with drugs but got myself back on track and was hoping to stay that way. On December 4th of that same year my husband became very sick and ended up in the hospital with a blood sugar of 1700 and unfortunately passed the very next morning.

I completely lost myself and began to pull away from God. I ended up back into my addiction but even harder and I hit an ultimate bottom. I lost my son not only once but twice and he was permanently removed from my custody. I also ended up in an extremely domestically violent relationship and ended up homeless. I continued to run the streets and was yet again selling myself on the streets to support my addiction.

Little did I realize but my mom and many other friends from Edgewater and other churches were praying for me to finally surrender and go to rehab. after finally having had enough of being so sick and tired of not having a clean place to live, a meal to eat or any decent living conditions whatsoever as well as tired of abuse I finally called my adopted dad and had him agree to take me to rehab.

After I got out of rehab, I had a few struggles along the way but as of January 17th, 2018, I completely surrendered and have been clean ever since praise God! Around this time i also met an amazing man who today I call my husband Andrew Toner. After about 6 months we became engaged and around that same time I finished my first step study since being clean again through Celebrate Recovery.

in 2019 I was able to go on an Emmaus retreat and that really started changing my life even more. I had prayed about it and my doctors thought it would be best for my health if I had bariatric surgery so that July I did and 2 weeks later I became pregnant with our now 2-year-old daughter Charity Grace.

In 2021 I decided to get back more involved in CR for my food issues and anxiety and it really did help me and the following step study. I was honored to be asked to colead. That step study was truly life changing. God showed me one of my big purposes that I completely forgot was something I studied in college and something I’m a survivor of which is the fight against sex and human trafficking. I had heard something about it on the radio, so I enquired about it with an agency out of Fort Myers not realizing that there was an organization here in this county.

Only a few days later a friend of mine who had known about my passion from years ago when I was in college messaged me out of the blue asking me to join the board not knowing that I had been enquiring about it in other counties. Since joining the board, I have had several opportunities to share my story of being a survivor of sex trafficking as well as a survivor of prostitution and am currently working on starting a support group for survivors as well as those in recovery from prostitution.

This past February my husband Andrew and I finally got married and I was blessed to have my son Kalib walk me down the isle. My son due to my recovery is still a part of our life and is an open adoption so he can still see us and be a part of his sister’s life also since he absolutely adores her.

I stand here not to brag on myself but on God. I still do have many struggles especially with food issues, finances, and recently anxiety. God has been actively helping me with this anxiety and irritability that comes from my medical and new hormonal issues. I have realized that even though this has been a huge struggle it has truly brought me closer to God and helped me realize that God isn’t finished with me yet and even though I struggle he uses these struggles for his glory and to help others who may be going through the same thing.

God has gotten me through so much and I actively continue to see him still healing, growing, and changing me for the better praise God! Today I also am able to be a substitute teacher for my county. I see my son about every other month and will be able to take him to a Christmas show this December on my own. Today I truly believe that I didn’t lose my son, but I actually gained another family instead!

Thank you for letting me share!


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