Former drug addict now works to help those in need | New


As unusual as it may sound, Talik Woodard sees a lot of parallels between his life and the life of his home.

Located in the 700 block of East Monroe Street, Woodard’s home has long been in a state of disrepair and neglect, with crumbling and unsafe front and back porches, missing siding and a worn old roof.

It was a mirror of the early years of Woodard’s life, which were spent battling cocaine addiction and many entering and leaving prison.

Now, for nearly five years sober, Woodard has been an example of hope for residents who still struggle with drug addiction.

As for his house? She too is enjoying a second life.

Thanks to the city’s exterior home improvement program – funded with federal dollars through the Community Development Block Grant – Woodard was able to receive approximately $ 40,000 for a new police porch, new roof and new windows.

The house is still under construction, but once an eyesore, the house – a heirloom from his late grandfather – is now something to be proud of.

“This house is a testament to my life,” said Woodard. “If you saw the ‘before’ photos, you would understand. “


Like many current and recovering addicts, Woodard’s goal was never to become an addict. He played soccer and, in fact, was pretty good at it.

“I probably could have gone to the league,” he said.

But tragedy struck early in Woodard’s life.

His mother died of cancer at the age of 36, when Woodard was 17. His mother was the rock in Woodard’s life, responsible for establishing the roots of a Higher Power and the moral values ​​and responsibilities that flow from them.

It was a huge loss for Woodard, and his death would have a huge effect on the trajectory of his life.

“I lost that sense of responsibility,” Woodard said of his mother’s death.

After his death, Woodard’s stepfather got his own apartment, leaving Woodard and his brothers alone in the house. It was then, said Woodard, that his drug addiction began.

“It started off smoking a pot on Friday night on the way to the basketball game at Memorial Gym,” said Woodard. “It was all innocent, you know. But then we started using crack. It was no different from the hippies. Their drug was marijuana. In the 90s crack was everywhere and we started experimenting.

This experience will last 27 years, from 1990 to 2017.

In the early 1980s and early 1990s, the United States experienced what we now call the “crack epidemic”. A massive influx of cocaine, much of it from Colombia, hit the shores of the United States. The cocaine powder was eventually converted into solid, smokable “crack” that could be sold in smaller quantities to more people.

In some large cities, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, a dose of crack could be purchased for as little as $ 2.50 (equivalent to $ 6 in 2020). Drugs and the resulting epidemic have wreaked havoc in cities and, in particular, low-income minority communities, leading to an increase in crime in many cities and prompting for harsher prison sentences. – the results of which are still being felt today.

Woodard, according to his account, has been in jail almost 60 times and in jail twice, following a nearly 30-year battle with drug addiction that affected almost the rest of his life.

If you ask Woodard when he thinks his addiction has become a problem, he won’t be able to tell you.

“It’s a myth, but I considered myself for many years to be a functional addict,” said Woodard. “As I went through my recovery, I learned that there is no such thing as a functional addict. People think of themselves as functional addicts because they can go to work and come home and pay their bills and everything. You may be good in this area of ​​your life, but you fail in other areas.

Woodard’s addiction led to very few meaningful relationships and temporarily ruined the relationship between him and his daughter. The scars of that relationship are now starting to heal, but giving up his fatherly duties for so long is now a major regret for Woodard.

“They’re so used to saying what we’re going to do and not doing it,” Woodard said. “I am still regaining that confidence today.”


Woodward was in jail when he decided to get sober for good.

Born into a religious family, the roots of this upbringing and relationship with God were still there, but mostly in a distant background. Woodard describes his relationship with God during his years of addiction as a “flickering light,” like a bulb that is not fully screwed on.

But this time, in 2017, Woodard decided to fully commit.

“It’s one of the best things my mom has ever done is teach us how to have a relationship with God,” he said. “At a young age, I had these roots. The roots of a tree, you usually don’t see them, but eventually a tree grows and the roots grow all over the place, and you look up and it twists the sidewalk. This is what was in me these 27 years of addiction, but it was enough to water it … I continued to have traps, bad luck, until I surrendered.

Around the same time, in May 2018, Turning Point – Howard County’s Systems of Care program and its most comprehensive response to the local drug epidemic to date – opened. The organization is a collaborative effort between the medical, mental health and faith communities that connects those struggling with substance abuse with those who can help them.

Launched as the original idea of ​​an opioid summit hosted by local officials and community leaders amid the world’s worst opioid epidemic that has killed hundreds of local people, Turning Point has since grown and grown every year.

Along with this have come other organizations, including a handful of recovery facilities, which have opened their doors in recent years and provide services to those in need and struggling with drug addiction – not all of whom were. present only five years ago.

A friend introduced him to Woodard Turning Point. There, Woodard met Jayme Whitaker, who proved to be an invaluable resource for Woodard throughout his time with Turning Point and his fellow recovery coaches and his weekly classes.

“I would go to class, change the negative people and places and things in my life and find these safe places to come,” Woodard said. “I was doing whatever they told me to do.”

Woodard spent two years under the wings of Turning Point, which not only gave him someone by his side to help him stay sober, but also taught him the mundane but necessary skills in life – like how to improve. his credit score, gaining the identification needed to have most jobs, financial literacy and change in “criminal mindset”.

Now a Turning Point alumnus, Woodard has been working for the association since October of last year, serving as a peer recovery coach for those going through the same things battling their addictions that he was going through a few years before. .

“Since walking through the door he’s been an inspiration to a lot of people,” said Paul Wyman, Turning Point board member and county commissioner. “He has overcome a lot of obstacles in his life, and to see him now as part of our recovery community is just so exciting.

The job has become more than just a job for Woodard, who now says that kind of work is something he wants to do for the rest of his life, whether it’s with Turning Point or some other organization.

“The biggest part of being a peer recovery coach is that that person who comes in and is still in pain, she sees someone like her,” said Woodard. “Some of the people who come in I used to be with, so when they see me they say ‘I want Talik as a coach. “”

Many of those who suffered from drug addiction died well before the age of 27. The same could have happened to Woodard, but he thinks the fact that he’s still alive is proof that God has a far more important role to him than that – helping those who were once in his place.

As far as he’s come, Woodard knows his battle isn’t over and probably never will be. But, now there is a support system in place to help keep her on track and help her if she stumbles.

“I took a long detour, but the great thing is that God has never let go of my hands,” he said. “Having a goal now is all … The winner of the recovery race is not given to the fastest, but to the one who endures to the end. The moment I start to think that I am more big as the program or God, these are red flags… So I remain teachable.


About Rhonda Lee

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