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Former addicts look to help others through new ACTS program

Laura and Josh Campbell know what it's like to battle an addiction. They know how hard it can be not only to break a physical habit of drinking or using a needle, but also how difficult it can be to leave your friends behind in order to begin a b...

Laura Campbell, left, and her husband Josh pose for a family photo with their son. (Submitted Photo)
Laura Campbell, left, and her husband Josh pose for a family photo with their son. (Submitted Photo)

Laura and Josh Campbell know what it's like to battle an addiction.

They know how hard it can be not only to break a physical habit of drinking or using a needle, but also how difficult it can be to leave your friends behind in order to begin a better life for yourself.

They did it, though. They broke those bonds and now they want to help others do the same.

"We want to show people you don't have to do it on your own," Laura said. "In the beginning we both did because there wasn't something like this where we were from. We don't want to see other people try to do it so on their own."

The Campbells are certified instructors for a drug and alcohol treatment program called the ACTS program. ACTS stands for alcohol, chemical treatment series.

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ACTS is a curriculum-based, self-help and recovery and educational program designed to help an individual or family deal with problems associated with alcohol and chemical abuse.

The program, which has classes across the United States, is free and is funded by private donations. Laura said ACTS encompasses the emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of an individual in order to give them the best outcome possible.

A former addict herself, Laura said five years ago she was living with a friend who was a drug dealer. She was addicted to alcohol and used various recreational drugs.

"I was just a hot mess-just paycheck to paycheck, so depressed," she said. "I found a community of people to figure out what was going on and, bit by bit by bit, I began to recover."

Josh said he struggled with alcohol abuse from the time he was about 16 until he was 34. He said growing up in rural Tennessee, it sometimes felt like there weren't many options for things to do, so he turned to alcohol.

He said while he was a functioning addict, he started to figure out that what he was doing wasn't making him happy.

"It's just not a good or happy way to live," Josh said. "... It's like chasing a dream or chasing a high that you used to have. It's very unfulling. But I turned it around about four years ago."

Laura said they decided to become ACTS instructors after seeing people who were in need of an extra friend or support system to help them deal with their addiction to drugs or alcohol.

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"We just noticed more and more there's just a need," she said. "Everywhere we looked, we saw our old selves and we saw people who maybe they want to live a new way. But when you quit your habit, you quit your friends. Sometimes you quit your family."

The couple met through an online dating site, which they said matched them at a 99 percent compatibility rate. Laura said they had an immediate connection and could bond over their love for agriculture.

They have been married for three years and have a 10-month-old baby boy with another on the way at the end of October. Laura said their marriage and the way they parent is full of peacefulness, compared to where they came from.

"The way we have of dealing with life is so rich and beautiful and worthwhile that I don't even regret where we came from because I can see it's all working together for good," she said.

Before moving to Dickinson in 2015, Laura said the couple had a brief relapse after being around people that didn't have the best habits. She said they quickly realized they couldn't put themselves back into the position they worked so hard to get out of.

"We realized the power of community, of environment," Laura said. "If you want to improve yourself, you have to find someone who has what you want. It's called a mentor and you need to hang out with that person and we have that here in North Dakota."

ACTS, which is offered through Life in Focus Education, is designed as a 12-week course. However, participants are welcome to join at any time. Course topics include alcohol, cocaine, crack, marijuana, narcotics, inhalants, designer drugs, hallucinogens, PCP, barbiturates, stimulants and alcohol and drug dependence.

The Campbells plan on starting the classes in mid-September and will meet every Wednesday in the basement of the New Life Pentecostal Church in Dickinson.

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Laura said in some states it's recognized by the courts and probation-parole departments as an alternative to Alcoholic Anonymous. She said they hope to one day be able to do the same to help those who might not feel comfortable in an AA setting.

Each course lasts about an hour and will give information to first understand why someone becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol in a way that isn't complex or difficult to understand.

Josh said they also plan on offering other 12-week classes that relate to ACTS, such as parenting and marriage classes. He said it's ultimately about fostering good relationships with good people around to help make sure that someone is successful in their recovery.

"It's ultimately about relationships though," Josh said. "It's a jumping off point, but it's a relationship that really makes things go for people."

For more information about the ACTS classes, call Laura at 931-581-8774.

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