James had been admitted to numerous treatment centers and countless detoxification programs in his more than 20-year battle with alcoholism. However, he was unable to maintain sobriety and experienced a relapse on alcohol each time he left a treatment program. James' alcoholism progressed in 1994 with the deaths of his mother and eldest brother. He became utterly and completely dependent on alcohol. At that time, he felt his alcoholism had progressed to the point of no return. James experienced alcoholic seizures on a daily basis and his marriage had fallen apart. James' family had given up on him. It was during this time that James experienced a moment of clarity and decided to enter the Layne House, a substance abuse treatment program in Prestonsburg, KY. While at the Layne House, James met a recovering alcoholic who told him about a long-term treatment center in Lexington, KY called the Shepherd's House. Together, they placed a call to the Shepherd's House and James secured a spot on their waiting list.
James Hunter came to the Shepherd's House on October of 1998 after completing primary treatment at the Layne House in Prestonsburg, Kentucky.
Upon entering the Shepherd's House, James felt he lacked accountability and responsibility, two characteristics he wanted to gain while in treatment. He found that he could acquire much more while at Shepherd's House. James was immediately held accountable for a daily chore and maintaining a tidy bedroom and bathroom. He was required to be punctual for all appointments, meetings, and therapy sessions. James accepted his new responsibilities and at the same time learned to be accountable for himself and to the community of other clients in the house. The way the program is designed required James to learn accountability and responsibility in order to achieve success.
The Shepherd's House required James to obtain employment, and for the first time in five years, he was working a full-time job. It was during this time period that James noticed a change in his self-esteem. He proved to himself that he was capable of changing his life and worked hard to make the changes necessary to gain the tools he needed to maintain long term sobriety and obtain a better life for him.
James' first impression of the Shepherd's House staff was that they cared about the clients in the program. He felt it was not just a job, but they truly wanted to help make a difference in the lives of others. James felt the staff did not view clients as bad people who wanted to be good, but as sick people who wanted to get well.
James immediately felt welcomed at the Shepherd's House. During his first conversation with the Resident House Manager, he was told that the door was always open if he needed to talk. James was then told about the quilt on his bed that was hand sewn by members of Good Shepherd Church and that the quilt was his to keep.
In individual and group therapy sessions, James' and his therapist began addressing issues relevant to his long-term sobriety. For example, they discussed his views and attitude toward life and how they were self defeating. After James had been in treatment for a few months and decided he had enough, his therapist pointed out to him that he had never completed anything in his life and it was time to see something through. She insisted that he commit one year of his life to the program in order to give himself the best possible chance at maintaining long-term sobriety. James followed through with the commitment and completed more than a year. James also obtained his G.E.D and also to regained his driving privileges after being inspired by his therapist to do so.
Seven months after graduating from the Shepherd's House, James was given an opportunity to return to the Shepherd's House as a staff member. James is currently the Resident House Manager. In this position, James is able to be of assistance to men in similar circumstances that brought him to the Shepherd's House.
A number of changes have occurred in James' life since he first approached the Shepherd's House in 1998. James' now shares his story with others struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction. He has shared his story in 12-Step Program meetings in a variety of settings including prisons and hospitals. His family has reunified and he is now a kind, caring, and patient father , husband and grandfather.
James' experience at the Shepherd's House has been one that has allowed him make a positive impact on his family, the community, and the Shepherd's House. He continues to give back to the community through the services he provides in a Twelve-step Program. Additionally, he has had a positive impact on Shepherd's House by serving as Resident House Manager, a role he fills very well by sharing with newcomers. When speaking at a ground-breaking for a low-cost housing program for men recovering from alcoholism and chemical dependency, attended by Lexington's Mayor, James expressed his gratitude to Shepherd's House for providing him an opportunity to turn his life around. James also committed at that time to help others involved in the program. He has done just that in his role in the recovering community inside and outside of the Shepherd's House.