Freedom in calling myself an addict

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<p><u>Photo above</u>: The Rev. Matt Hall stands outside his church office. <u>Photo at top of page</u>: Hall leads Wednesday-night recovery worship at First UMC in Maryville.</p>
By Annette Spence

“I found freedom in calling myself an addict,” he says. “One of the reasons why I’m in ministry is because I want to be beside people in the bad times of life, because people were there for me.”
From age 15 to 23, Hall was a user of drugs and alcohol, including opioids. His addiction got him discharged from the army and later put his life and mobility at risk, after an early-morning truck accident damaged his spine.
“It was humbling being 21 years old and having your mother bathe you,” said Hall. After the wreck, he woke up in a hospital with a doctor drilling bolts into his head for the halo and neck brace he would wear for three months.
As the 872 congregations of Holston Conference prepare to devote their annual missions offering to fight opioid addiction, Hall is one of many church recovery workers who know firsthand how ingrained and widespread the disease is.

“It was normal where I was from and for the group of people I was with,” says Hall, a native of Hillsville, Virginia. His addiction started with getting drunk with other high-school athletes after football and soccer games. When he took a job in a fast-food restaurant, Hall used cocaine to sober up for work after a night of drinking.