Ministry Offers Hope for Freedom from Addiction
In an area of Southeastern Ohio with alarming rates of drug abuse and addiction, Angie Pelphrey helps those who cannot help themselves.
“Last month alone, fifteen people died here in our community because of an overdose,” says Pelphrey. “It’s unreal. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Pelphrey runs Freedom Hall, a Christian drug and alcohol rehabilitation center she and her husband founded in Piketon, Ohio. Since opening in 2005, it has provided a long-term, Bible-based program for men and women. As director, Pelphrey oversees intake and all recovery aspects of the 12-step program.
Pelphrey understands addicts because she was one herself. This pastor’s wife, mother of three, and former pediatric nurse seems like an unlikely drug addict. But, as Pelphrey tells everyone, addiction does not choose a certain type of person. It preys upon all types of people, from all types of backgrounds.
The Road to Addiction and Back
At age 30, Pelphrey was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder that causes sufferers widespread muscle pain and fatigue. She was referred to a pain management physician, to help her manage the debilitating effects of her condition.
“I was taking 100 pills a month of the first medication I was prescribed, and my symptoms only got worse,” says Pelphrey. “I was a lot sicker—I was in bed more, and I couldn’t work. When [my doctor] changed my prescription to something stronger, everything changed. It was like there was a monster, someone I didn’t know, living inside of my body.”
Pelphrey’s addiction eventually became so severe that she started stealing pills from her patients. “I’d never committed a crime in my life,” she says, “but that’s how far addiction takes you. It changes your whole inner being.”
She was arrested in 2004 and given a two-year sentence. It was reduced for good behavior, but she spent more than six months away from her husband and young daughters in an Ohio state penitentiary. From that experience, Pelphrey gained recovery and a new purpose for her life. When she went home, she was determined to open a recovery ministry, so she could help others who were walking the same road she had traveled.
The Ripple Effect of Reaching One More
Because of its Christ-centered focus, Freedom Hall doesn’t qualify for state or federal aid. It operates entirely on donations. The men’s dormitory sleeps 31, and a newly-opened women’s facility can house 16. Even so, there’s always a waiting list. Every day, Pelphrey has to turn away people who desperately need help. She knows doing so means that some of them will not get assistance in time.
She tells the story of a young deaf man who was searching for help. Other facilities wouldn’t take him because of his disability, and at first, Pelphrey was hesitant to accept him because she didn’t know sign language.
“But then I felt a challenge,” she says. “I thought, ‘all I have to do is learn.’ And so we took him, and we learned sign language—everyone in the house. That man is clean and sober today.
“To reach one more in what we do at Freedom Hall means that someone is going to live another day. And if they change, then they can reach one more. Because that’s our goal: to teach them, and send them out to help others.”
Learn more about Freedom Hall and New Beginnings Outreach Ministries.