Drew Dedrick, age 43, was raised in Columbia, MD. “I grew up in a good Catholic family,” says Drew. “I did well in school. I played football, baseball and painted scenery for the drama club and was an artist for the newspaper.”
“I had always been a normal guy. As I entered middle school I got glasses, braces and crazy hair due to my many cowlicks. I wasn’t cool anymore. I desperately wanted to fit in. I felt like good students were nerds so I started making an effort not to get straight A’s.
“After high school, I enrolled in UMBC and joined a fraternity. I did nothing but drink my entire freshman year. I felt like it was required to be part of the crowd and it helped me to feel accepted. By the end of my freshman year, I had failed out of college.
“I started working at Toby’s Dinner Theatre as a morning dishwasher. Within weeks I was promoted to working with props and stage managing. From there I became the technical director and finally a sound designer.
“In 1999, I married my girlfriend — an actress I had met at the theatre. We had a good life together. She eventually left the theatre and got a job as a teacher.
“Our first son, Martin, was born in 2004 and our second, August, arrived in 2007. After August was born, she wanted me to get a “real job.” She didn’t think that my job at the theatre had the long-term security that a day job could provide. But, I was comfortable at the theatre and knew that I was very good at what I did.
“After August was born, the disconnect between us grew. She had matured and become a proper mother but I hadn’t made that adjustment with her. She kept asking me to drink less. I hesitantly agreed but never made any real changes.
“We reached a point of crisis in our marriage. She gave me an ultimatum that I needed to quit drinking, quit smoking and get my health checked out. I told her that was a lot to ask for and I didn’t know if I could do all of it. I went to the doctor the very next week. I tried to quit smoking without realizing how hard it would be. I never was able to stop drinking. After six months, right after Thanksgiving 2013, she kicked me out. At first I fought for her and our relationship but eventually realized that it was futile — she was not going to take me back. Not being able to be with my boys was devastating.
“I still had my job at Toby’s and I would sleep in my car and at friends’ houses. It was freezing cold and so I drank to keep warm. My wife told me I couldn’t drive the boys anymore. Once that responsibility was gone, I drank whenever I wasn’t at work. I drank all day long. I got to the point where I would shake if I wasn’t drinking. My doctor prescribed me anxiety medication. Because I was taking it along with drinking, I started blacking out. I started getting progressive warnings from my boss about showing up drunk to work.
“From May to October my life was just shame upon shame. I was hallucinating. I was very paranoid and stopped talking to people. I thought I was going to die – I didn’t believe I had any chance to control my alcoholism. I was only getting ½ hour of sleep every night and drinking didn’t even get me drunk anymore.
“I finally realized that I needed help. My step-mother helped me look for programs and found Helping Up Mission. She brought me to HUM and I was an emotional mess. I had been isolated for so long. Suddenly, I was in a community of guys all working on the same thing and it was like an enormous weight had been lifted.
“I surrounded myself with good people. For the first time in my life, I started following the rules. Anything the staff asked me to do, I did. I got a sponsor, a home group, developed a great relationship with my treatment coordinator, fully used my therapist and started attending church.
“As I progressed in the program, I had to decide about going back to work right away or waiting. I prayed on it and decided to accept a work therapy assignment in HUM’s treatment office. I wanted to give back to the place that had saved my life! I eventually accepted an internship in the Philanthropy Department. My family wrote a letter lashing out at me for taking an internship instead of a full-time job. They wanted me to re-enter the workforce and provide for my boys.
“I recently was offered the opportunity to interview for a position in HUM’s Philanthropy Department as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator. As I read the job description, I was amazed – if I could have written it myself, this is the ideal job description I would have written. A couple of weeks later, I was offered and accepted the position. Working at Helping Up Mission is a calling. It’s a place where I can help save lives.
“Because I am able to live at the Mission as a residential staff member, I am saving money and able to make financial amends to my ex-wife. My family apologized to me for writing that letter and doubting me. They now realize that I was doing the right thing all along, by surrendering to God’s will and am now in a position to give back to my boys immediately.”
Watch Drew’s interview at our 2016 Graduation Banquet: