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Submitted / The Outlook Cam Warren, left, went through the rehab program at The Lighthouse and re-connected with his daughter, Cammie Warren, in time to see her graduate high school.

Cam Warren has a new lease on life. 

Once at rock bottom but now three years sober, Warren said he owes his recovery to support from The Lighthouse of Tallapoosa County and attributes most credit to God.

Warren has battled substance use disorder for many years and lost many meaningful pieces of his life along the way but the thing he lost sight of most was who he was.

At one point no longer even wanting to live, Warren now works multiple jobs, has reconnected with his 18-year-old daughter and is passionate about sharing his story so others can overcome similar battles.

“It started off years ago; I always had a drinking problem,” Warren said. “I always said I wasn’t good enough but it was just part of my mental illness and an attitude thing. Over the years my addiction progressed but (The Lighthouse) program changed my way of thinking. It taught me to love myself.”

After cycles of sobriety and relapse, in February 2017, Warren reached such a low level of depression he planned to take his own life.

“I’m not ashamed to say that today because that was a turning point for me,” Warren said. “My higher power I choose to call God showed up and showed out.”

His rescue came in the form of a friend who felt called to check in on Warren the same day he planned his attempted suicide.

“The first words out of his mouth were, ‘Cam, don’t you do nothin’ stupid. I’m on my way to your house,’” Warren said. “He came slidin’ in the driveway and I was holding tears and emotions back and he was crying. He told me, ‘God told me to come check on you. I left work early and drove 80-90 (mph) to get over here.’”

The happenstances continued as a friend dropped off food after taking a wrong turn on his way to pick up his son. Warren was grateful for the generosity as he hadn’t eaten in two days.

“The guy said, ‘I just kept going and this is where God told me to stop,’” Warren said. “All that happened in 15 minutes and that’s what really changed my life.”

From that point, Warren started praying and felt God spoke directly to him by saying, “I love you even when you don’t love yourself.” 

Warren got arrested in 2017 and spent 90 days in jail before entering the rehabilitation program in Alexander City. He hasn’t touched drugs or alcohol since.

“The night before I left jail, I opened up the Bible and I was scared about going to rehab but the Bible said, ‘All your troubles will make an escape route,’” Warren said.

Although he promised to stay at The Lighthouse for at least one year, Warren lived there almost two and a half to help the new guys coming through the program.

“I could see how broken they were and hopeless; I’ve been to that hopeless place and it’s not a good place to be,” Warren said. “Life today is not about me; it’s about what I can do for other people to try to help them realize that there is hope out there.”

Warren’s faith also came in the form of reconnecting with his daughter Cammie Warren in time to see her graduate with honors from Handley after no contact with her for about four years. Warren made efforts to get in touch but to no avail, so he put it in God’s hands.

About a year later and six months before leaving rehab, Warren and Cammie were able to communicate and are now working on rebuilding their relationship.

“It was a blessing to go all that time and not get to talk to her or see her and then she sent me an invitation for graduation,” Warren said in a very emotional tone. “I wouldn’t have gotten to do any of that otherwise. That’s the perks and some of the rewards of the program. You keep doing the right thing and God is going to open doors.”

Cammie has since spent time with her dad on his birthday and Father’s Day and become yet another reason for him to remain sober.

Warren now works at Quality Cleaning and runs his own remodeling business. He has a maintenance job lined up at a school once it starts back. He grew up in Roanoke but lives in Wedowee now. He is a strong advocate for rehabilitation, especially the program at The Lighthouse of Tallapoosa County, a men’s residential substance use disorder treatment facility certified by the State of Alabama Department of Mental Health.

“The program up there is awesome,” Warren said. “It taught me honesty and how to love myself and accept myself for who I am. (Lighthouse worker) Michael J always said, ‘If it ain’t always right, it’s wrong.’ No matter what I do, I do things right. If I tell a lie, I’m lying to myself and I’ve lied to myself my entire life.”

Warren said he’s come to recognize his loving, sensitive side that was buried behind substance use for all those years and doesn’t ever want to physically or emotionally hurt anybody the way he did while under the influence.

“Cam is not God or in control,” Warren said. “The only thing I can control is what I do to Cam and how I treat other people.”

Warren’s main message for others is there is hope.

“Because I’ve been where they’ve been,” Warren said. “Just because you’ve lost everything, it ain’t the end of the world. There is still hope and if you want recovery, it’s there. But they have to want it. The best apology I can give to my family and children is to never pick up drugs or alcohol no more.”

Amy Passaretti is a staff writer with the Alexander City Outlook.