Bob’s Story: A Wake-Up Call
About the Guest
Today on the broadcast, Bob Wood, a leader along with his wife, Karrie, in the Celebrate Recovery Ministry, talks to Dennis Rainey about his former addiction to drugs, alcohol, and pornography.
Bob and Karrie WoodBob Wood, Celebrate Recovery pastor at Fellowship Bible Church (FBC) in Little Rock and responsible for 22 other Celebrate Recovery churches in Arkansas, comments, “we’re not a hotel for saints, we’re a hospital for sinners.” Wood, a recovering drug and sex addict himself and a Saddleback alumnus, leads FBC’s Friday night meetings which attract 200 to 300 regular attendees, many of them not regular Sunday churchgoers. Wood’s wife, Karrie, who is recovering primarily from bulemi...more
Bob Wood talks about his former addiction to drugs, alcohol, and pornography.
Bob’s Story: A Wake-Up Call
Bob Wood: Through the promiscuous relationships, I discovered alcohol, through alcohol, I discovered drugs, and there's a subculture that starts to take place there, that that's who I started connecting with. I knew all the people that did drugs, I knew all the people that drank alcohol, I knew all the people whose parents were at work during the day, after school. So we could go over to people's houses and continue partying all day.
Bob Lepine: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, August 30th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We need to take the Bible seriously when it says "Don't be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals."
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. I've had the experience recently of getting together with a group of guys once a week. We just sit around and kind of talk about life and what's going on and how we're doing, and as we started this group, we just had everyone share their story. You know, what's your background, where'd you grow up, what kind of stuff did you deal with in life, and by the time everybody had shared their story, we were all looking at each other, going, "Man, we all had some pretty messed-up stuff happening when we were growing up." It's interesting, because you don't stop and think that everybody around you experienced challenges, too. We tend to think we went through our challenges but everybody had "Leave it to Beaver" at their house. But in this group of nine guys, we're all looking, "There's a lot of mess here," you know?
Dennis: Everybody has a story. You know what? They really do. The problem in this culture is we seldom stop and sit down with a group of men like you do, Bob, and five to seven men, maybe as many as nine, like you talk about, and let one another tell their story and get real with one another.
We have a couple with us who – well, they're telling their story this week on FamilyLife Today. Bob and Karrie Wood join us. Bob, Karrie, welcome back to the broadcast.
Karrie: Thank you.
Bob Wood: Thank you, it's good to be back.
Dennis: Bob and Karrie give leadership to Celebrate Recovery in Little Rock, Arkansas, at Fellowship Bible Church and earlier we've heard Karrie's story of God's redemption, of how He took a lot of broken pieces and a lot of hidden hurts and brought healing and hope to a girl's life.
Karrie: Yes, He did.
Dennis: And today we want to get Bob's story, because you have a story that's unique as well. I want to go to the point, though, where you hit rock bottom in your story. Do you remember the time it was, Bob?
Bob Wood: I can still visualize it today. It was 1995, April 10th, and my parents had written a letter to me outlining what their expectations were of me. And it was basically an intervention. And they told me how much they loved me, how much they cared about me, but they couldn't watch me destroy my life anymore, and if I didn't get help, I was going to have to leave their house and family business that I was working in.
Bob Lepine: How old were you at the time?
Bob Wood: I was 23 years old.
Bob Lepine: So Mom and Dad saw enough happening with you that they said, "We've got to risk the relationship and step in here and try to get some help."
Bob Wood: That's right. They had to risk the consequences of what I might do, but they couldn't sit there and enable me to continue in my behavior because I was causing harm. I was bringing drugs into their home.
Bob Lepine: Did you know that your life was messed up?
Bob Wood: Oh, no. I thought I had it all together. I was still maintaining my job; I was still participating in the life as much as I saw it; and I didn't see how desperate my situation had become.
Bob Lepine: Let me take you back to the beginnings of life for you, because to have a mom and dad step in and intervene, that's a healthy thing for them to do. Did you grow up in a healthy home?
Bob Wood: I would say as healthy as normal is, whatever we define normal as, right? I grew up in Southern California, I was the middle child of three kids. My dad was a heavy drinker to the point of alcoholic. My mom, her and I had kind of a kindred spirit. We got along really well, but I always felt distant and unemotionally connected to my dad.
Dennis: Did your dad ever admit he was an alcoholic? Did he ever come to the point of confessing, "I am an alcoholic. I've got a problem with this?"
Bob Wood: No. He ended up quitting drinking as a result of a health issue, and then that turned into workaholism. And that's a real common trait that I've found that alcoholics do is when they quit drinking they go to workaholism to fill that void.
Bob Lepine: So life in Southern California for you with an alcoholic father and a mom that you get along with is just kind of normal life, right?
Bob Wood: Right.
Bob Lepine: And throughout your elementary school years, you would describe them as mostly peaceful, mostly happy?
Bob Wood: Yeah, I mean, my mom was a room mom, everything seemed fine. I got A's and B's all throughout school. I was in advanced placement classes. I mean, everything on the outside really looked good.
Bob Lepine: Anything going on spiritually at home?
Bob Wood: Nothing to speak of. We did grow up, my mom being Catholic, but we only went to mass – the Leaster and Poinsettia churchgoers.
Bob Lepine: And did you have any sense of who God was or that He existed or you had heard some stories of Jesus, anything?
Bob Wood: No, as far as I was concerned there was no God, and we were just on this earth for our period of time, and we died, and it was over.
Dennis: The next major event in your life that marked it occurred in the attic. Now, I don't know why it is that attics and basements are places where damaging things occur to little boys and little girls, but in your life it took an attic to mark your life in a dramatic way.
Bob Wood: And that was a place for me that I would play. I would pretend like I was in a fort or a soldier. And I remember the day that I found pornography in the attic. And I remember the rush that flowed through me. I knew it was wrong, I knew I shouldn't be looking at it, but I just kept going back, I couldn't stop.
Dennis: Whose was it?
Bob Wood: It was my parents'.
Dennis: Did you ever ask your dad about it?
Bob Wood: Not a word.
Dennis: How old were you?
Bob Wood: I was probably 12.
Bob Lepine: But you'd found the secret stash, and your did didn't know you'd found it. Did he even know it was still up there, do you think?
Bob Wood: I'm not even sure if he did. But I sure did, and I kept going back over and over again, trying to get the fix that I experienced that first time.
Bob Lepine: Your exposure at age 12, you said it was a recurring pattern now, where you were going to revisit this pornography. What did that open up for you in life?
Bob Wood: I think it opened up a window to my soul that I didn't know I was tapping into. I didn't understand the consequences of it, I didn't understand what healthy sexuality looked like. I didn't have a model for it, I was never taught it, so everything I discovered about sexuality I discovered on my own.
Dennis: Did your dad ever talk to you about the birds and the bees?
Bob Wood: Never.
Dennis: Anybody else?
Bob Wood: Never.
Bob Lepine: So you're learning it on the pages of these magazines, and that's defining for you what a relationship with a member of the opposite sex ought to look like, right?
Bob Wood: Right. It defined it for me. It actually laid it out for me what I thought sexuality was all about.
Bob Lepine: And what did that do during junior high and senior high then?
Bob Wood: Well, as it progressed I continued acting out sexually, continued trying to have promiscuous relationships with other women, and then ultimately led into a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol as I traveled into junior high school.
Bob Lepine: Now, wait. How are you connecting pornography with drugs and alcohol? What's the connection there?
Bob Wood: Because of the lifestyle I was starting to live, I was living a lifestyle that was not consistent with God's pattern for me. I was trying to do things my way rather than His way, although I didn't understand that at the time, I can look back and see that's what was happening, and through the promiscuous relationships, I discovered alcohol, through alcohol I discovered drugs, and there's a subculture that starts to take place there, that that's who I started connecting with. I knew all the people that did drugs, I knew all the people that drank alcohol, I knew all the people whose parents were at work during the day, after school, and so we could go over to people's houses and continue partying all day.
Dennis: We have your testimony, Bob, on FamilyLife.com, and in your testimony you said "When I first tried alcohol, something in me clicked, and I felt right at home. This is what I'd been looking for to cure the restless feeling I had inside. This ultimately led to harder drugs and heavier drinking." What clicked?
Bob Wood: I always felt different than the other kids. I always felt like I didn't fit in, even though I tried through sports and through after-school activities. I always tried to fit in and always felt just a little awkward, like I didn't quite connect with people. And when I tried alcohol that first time, I felt like "Wow, I've got courage. I can now talk to the girls. I can now connect with people in a way that I was never able to connect before, and it changed how I perceived all my relationships, because now I felt like I needed this outside substance to help me to connect with people in a real way.
Bob Lepine: Was this a big part of the 7th or 8th grade culture you were in?
Bob Wood: Well, what I would do is immerse myself in that culture. Although I don't think it was happening with all the students throughout the school, I found those that did and connected with them and continued to allow that to pursue in my life.
Bob Lepine: Do you remember the first time you used drugs?
Bob Wood: I remember the first time like it was yesterday. Somebody had brought marijuana to school, and I thought how curious this is. I wonder what that's like?
Dennis: Now, this is in …
Bob Wood: Junior high school.
Dennis: Seventh grade?
Bob Wood: Seventh grade.
Bob Wood: And I thought, "I wonder what this would be like? I wonder what kind of effect this would have on me?" And I was with my friends, who I was used to interacting with on this level, and I thought, "They're doing it. Why shouldn't I do it, too?"
Bob Lepine: And if drinking gives you courage …
Bob Wood: Why not marijuana to go with it?
Bob Lepine: Yeah, what's this going to do? This may be something even more special.
Bob Wood: Right.
Dennis: So you moved to harder drugs. What were the other drugs you moved to?
Bob Wood: In just a short time, I tried cocaine for the first time, and this was at about age 15 – not even able to drive yet. And then what I realized was alcohol, at one point, became harder for me to get than drugs did.
Dennis: You're kidding?
Bob Wood: So my drug addiction actually overcame my alcoholism.
Dennis: I've often wanted to ask this question, because I don't know that I've had the right person in the studio to be able to ask it to – how do you find drugs? I mean, I know I'm not running with the crowd that sells drugs, but what you're saying and what you're implying here is the crowd of kids you were running with had so much access to drugs it was like almost ordering a Big Mac.
Bob Wood: Right. A neighbor moved in across the street from me, and older man that was about 21 years old, and I was about 15, and we started smoking pot together, and then he introduced me cocaine. It was like a natural flow of events for me.
Bob Lepine: You don't find drugs, drugs find you.
Bob Wood: Right.
Bob Lepine: If you're in that crowd …
Bob Wood: They'll find you.
Bob Lepine: It comes your way. For a 15-year-old who has now been drinking, smoking pot, and is now doing cocaine, Mom and Dad have any clue that anything is going on with you?
Bob Wood: Mom and Dad had no idea at this point what was happening.
Dennis: What about the money? I mean, what does it cost to snort – what do you call it, snort a line of cocaine, is that what you do?
Bob Wood: Yes.
Dennis: What does that cost?
Bob Wood: I would spend probably $20 each time I would use it.
Dennis: And how long would that last?
Bob Wood: Usually just for the day.
Dennis: Where would you get the 20 bucks? Because you've got to have another 20 tomorrow?
Bob Wood: Right. I would do chores around the house. I also started working at an early age, because my parents had a family business, so I started working with them when I was about 15 and a half – just part-time after school, and that began to provide me some income that I could use to spend. I mean, we would scrape up pennies, if we had to.
Dennis: Did you ever sell?
Bob Wood: Not at this point. I did later on in life, but I didn't at this point.
Bob Lepine: But Mom and Dad never thought, "What's he doing with all the money he's earning?"
Bob Wood: Never thought about it.
Bob Lepine: Your use continued through high school. At this point were you known as one of the druggies at high school?
Bob Wood: Yes. I was known as somebody you can get drugs from or that could sell drugs to.
Dennis: Ever get busted?
Bob Wood: I did once.
Dennis: What happened?
Bob Wood: I was behind a rollerskating rink at that time and had some cocaine in my car and some marijuana in my car, and it was in a dark parking lot behind it, and the police drove around and just knew two people sitting in a parking lot behind a rollerskating rink had to be doing something and asked us to step out of the car and, in the process, I revealed the drugs that I had.
Dennis: So they took you to the police station?
Bob Wood: They took me to the police station, called my parents and just released me to them with no charges.
Dennis: What did your parents say?
Bob Wood: They were furious. They had no idea how bad things were and, of course, I didn't lead them to believe that things were all that bad. I said, "I'm not using it all the time, I'm not using it on a regular basis. This was just a one-time thing. I just happened to get caught."
Dennis: So you lied through your teeth?
Bob Wood: I lied through my teeth. One of the things that I've learned in recovery – if an addict's lips are moving, they're probably lying.
Dennis: Bob, you remember John Vawter's daughter who we interviewed her on FamilyLife Today. She said to us, as parents, she said, "My ability to conceal the truth is greater than you as a parent's ability to determine the truth." And as a parent you tend to think, "Now, that could never happen in my home." But it can happen, can't it?
Bob Wood: Of course, no mom wants to think that their son is a drug addict, and the other thing that I would keep in mind is a lot of the kids that are using drugs and alcohol like I was are very intelligent, bright, smart kids. They know how to work the system, they know how to work their parents, they know how to work the system at school. There's entrepreneurs in schools selling drugs.
Dennis: What was happening to your grades during this time?
Bob Wood: At this point they did start to drop. My attendance was down, I was skipping school on a regular basis, I was down to D's and F's, and so they did start to notice that things were escalating, but they didn't know what to do.
Dennis: Any health issues?
Bob Wood: Not to speak of.
Dennis: So there was no tipoff there that your parents could notice weight loss or any look in your eyes. Could they have given you a drug test and caught you?
Bob Wood: In fact, at one point they tried doing that. They did give me drugs tests for over six months while I was in a counseling program, and what I did is learn all the drugs that would not show up on a drug test.
Bob Lepine: Like, what kinds of drugs? Are you talking about prescription painkillers, that kind of stuff?
Bob Wood: No, what I was using at that time was a drug called LSD, also known as acid.
Bob Lepine: And acid won't show up on a drug test?
Bob Wood: It did not show up on a drug screen.
Bob Lepine: So you're in treatment, six months' worth of treatment …
Dennis: … hallucinating.
Bob Wood: Hallucinating.
Bob Lepine: Isn't there a counselor catching onto something?
Bob Wood: Well, I wouldn't use while I was actually in the counseling sessions, but there would be three or four days a week that I would be hallucinating on LSD. Even in school, I would use it, and I finally hit a breaking point at about the end of that six months where I really thought I was going to start losing my mind.
Bob Lepine: Bob, was there anybody in your life saying, "Man, what are you doing?"
Bob Wood: No, because I would keep everybody at bay who would say something like that to me. I would only let people into my world that I knew wouldn't judge me or wouldn't say anything to me. I surrounded myself with people that were doing the same thing I was so I wouldn't have to feel back about myself.
Bob Lepine: Your mom and dad knew you'd been arrested once. That's probably where they learned a little bit about what you'd been exposed to. You'd tell them, "Ah, it's just a one-time thing," but at some point, were they the ones who put you in treatment? When you were in a six-month treatment program?
Bob Wood: Right. They did suggest that I go to a treatment facility.
Bob Lepine: But that doesn't do any good. It eventually gets to a point where they sit down and write you a letter and say, "You either get some help or we're going to have to back out of your life. You're going to have to take care of yourself. We can't do this anymore."
Bob Wood: I can't even imagine how difficult that was for my family – to make that decision and to realize that their son had gotten to this point in their drug addiction; that they had to write a letter to him basically saying that if you wouldn't get help, they had to cut ties with him.
Dennis: It was actually more than just a letter, it was an intervention.
Bob Wood: It was an intervention.
Dennis: And explain to our listeners what an intervention is, because I've found in counseling couples who are taking a teenager through a situation like this, many times they don't know what that is.
Bob Wood: I arrived home one day, and I walked in the door, and my family was sitting there waiting for me, and they had written a letter that I've talked about earlier that outlined what their requirements were for me, and they laid down the consequences if I chose not to go through with what their plan was, and that's how the intervention played out – as each person in the family shared with me how my using had harmed them; how my behavior was causing damage to our family.
Dennis: It was a total surprise.
Bob Wood: Total surprise.
Dennis: They looked you in the eye, read their letters.
Bob Wood: Said how much they loved me and how much they cared about me but couldn't watch me continue destroying my life.
Dennis: As you sat there listening to your mom, your dad, and then who else in your family?
Bob Wood: My sister was there.
Dennis: What were you feeling? What were you thinking?
Bob Wood: I was angry. I couldn't believe that they were doing this. I couldn't believe that they were going to ask me to actually leave the house. I couldn't believe that I was going to lose my job in the family business. I was upset. I just wanted to run out of the room, and I ultimately took the letter, crumpled it up, and threw it back in their face and walked out the door.
Bob Lepine: You're saying to yourself, "I don't have to deal with this. I'll just do what I want to do. I'll just keep living the way I'm living.
Bob Wood: Right.
Dennis: Just picturing that scene, Bob, it reminds me of an intervention I was in with an attorney friend of mine, where we all wrote letters to him – his wife, his daughter, I was a friend, another associate that he worked with, and we surprised him one morning and read those letters and totally stunned him. We got in the car, and we drove him to the airport, put him on a plane, and sent him to a drug rehab unit in another city. And, you know, we think about that being hard and difficult, and it does take a lot of courage for the people who are closest to the addict to do it, but it is a courageous act of love. I hate to say it this way, but many times we confuse softness, which is really the result of us being unwilling to face our fears, and from a courage standpoint, we're not willing to be the courageous person who says to that teenager or that husband or that wife, "You've got a problem. You need to deal with it." And that may be – in fact, I believe it is – the most loving thing that can be done to that person at that time.
Bob Lepine: Well, and I'm sure your parents, that night, kind of looked at each other and said, "Did that do any good? Did that make any difference?" Scratch their heads, thought is there any hope and yet hope was around the corner for you, and it did do some good, even though you wadded up the paper, and you walked out. I remember when you referenced talking to John Vawter whose daughter was probably a month away from dying on a heroine overdose when he intervened in her life, and he shares that story in a book that he helped put together called "Hit by a Ton of Bricks" that we have in our FamilyLife Resource Center. That has helped out a lot of parents who have found themselves in this situation with a son or a daughter who has been ensnared by alcohol or drug addiction.
We have information about the book on our website at FamilyLife.com. You can go to the home page and in the center of the home page you'll see a red button that says "Go," and if you click that button it will take you right to the page where you can get more information about the book, "Hit by a Ton of Bricks." There's a link there to the Celebrate Recovery page, there are other resources available for other kinds of compulsive or addictive behaviors – things like eating disorders, there's information on domestic violence. We've tried to assemble resources that will help families who are facing these kinds of family traumas.
Again, the website if FamilyLife.com. Click the button in the middle of the home page that says "Go," and you can get the information you need about resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife or call 1-800-FLTODAY, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can let you know how we can make arrangements to have specific resources sent out to you.
You know, our goal here at FamilyLife is to try to provide practical biblical help for marriages and families through this radio program, through the resources that we produce on our website at FamilyLife.com, through the events that we host in a variety of avenues. We are hoping to help influence couples, individuals, families, to try to provide help when it's needed. And, as I've mentioned this month, we find ourselves in a challenging spot as a ministry. We are ending up our fiscal year tomorrow, and we started off the month of August about 18 percent behind budget from where we'd hoped to be in this fiscal year.
So we have been alerting our listeners throughout the month about this particular need that we have and asking you if you would respond by making a donation of any amount to help us be able to stay on the air in this city; to help us be able to continue to move forward with new ministry initiatives; not have to pull the plug on anything that we're currently doing. And a number of you have responded. We appreciate that so much. We just wanted to take these last couple of days and make a final appeal – ask you, if you would, to consider making a donation to FamilyLife Today either by phone or online. We don't want you to do anything that would take away from giving to your local church. That ought to be your top priority.
But if you can make a donation today or tomorrow, go to our website, FamilyLife.com, or call 1-800-FLTODAY. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. We appreciate those of you who have already done that. If you're a regular listener, and there is any way you can help out, again, we would love to hear from you. Our website is FamilyLife.com, the toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY, and let me say thanks in advance for whatever you are able to do to help us with our financial need here at the end of our fiscal year.
Well, tomorrow we are going to come back and wrap up Bob Wood's story and also talk more about some of the ways you have seen God at work in the ministry of Celebrate Recovery.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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