Addiction is a global epidemic – but particularly in the United States. According to the U.S. News & World Report, “40 million Americans, age 12 and over, meet the clinical criteria for addiction involving nicotine, alcohol or other drugs.”
Micheal T. White of Louisville, KY – just so happens to be one of those 40 million addicts. I use the word “happens” because although he has been clean for over 20 years – technically he will always be an addict, who must fight the urge to use, for the rest of his life.
White confesses that he took his first drink of alcohol around nine years-old. He was a curious kid who would sometimes sneak a drink of the liquor from the household supply when he was lucky enough to run across a bottle.
He began drinking liquor more often during his teenage years and at some point added marijuana into the mix. By age 20, White was a full-blown alcoholic and started to dabble into the dark world of crack cocaine.
Over the next ten years he would spiral down a destructive path that would lead to several arrests – and prison terms in two states. Although most of White’s criminal charges were for minor theft and drug possession – his future looked bleak, due to his decisions primarily being influenced by his addictions.
“Once you cross the lines of addiction, you’ll pretend like other things are important but if you can’t love yourself, you really can’t love anybody else… And I was at the point where I couldn’t love nobody. – Micheal White
Like many addicts, White would straddle the fence between addiction and sobriety. He was a father that wanted to be there for his children but he wasn’t mentally strong enough to kick his habits. This resulted in many failed inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation attempts.
“An addiction is odd… You can want to get sober but you can’t because you just don’t know how and your spirit is dead… With Most addicts, their spirit is just dead… So I was spiritually dead.” – Micheal White
White’s addictions would come to a head one holiday season – forcing him to look his demons directly in the eye. He was seven years behind on his child support and his daughter’s mother promised to take him to child support court if he didn’t take his daughter Christmas shopping.
It was a Friday evening and White had just gotten paid. He was supposed to pick up his 10 year-old daughter the following morning and take her to pick up her Christmas layaway.
“I promised myself that I was going to do right… I told myself that I was just going to drink a beer but it didn’t work… So I ended up on crack and spent all the money… I ended up stealing all night to get high.” – Micheal White
It was now Saturday morning and White had yet to get any sleep. Fearful of going back to jail for child support – he decided to pawn all of his valuable possessions so that he could pick up his daughter’s Christmas layaway.
Believing that he had everything worked out – he picked his daughter up and headed to Toys R Us. Once the layaway was taken care of – they headed to McDonald’s to get her a Happy Meal.
Suffering from heavy addiction, White couldn’t enjoy the company of his daughter without getting high. He had a half-pint of liquor and a crack pipe in his pocket. He would repeatedly leave his daughter sitting alone at their table – making trips to McDonald’s restroom – to feed his addiction.
The trips became so regular that his daughter looked at him with disgust and asked why he was going to the restroom so often. Being powerless over his addictions made White hate himself even more. Not being able to look his daughter in the face any longer – he rushed to take her back to her mother’s home.
White’s addictions had caused him to become a burden to his entire family. His mother didn’t want him around anymore because he had stolen from her so many times. Regardless, after taking his daughter home, he snuck in his mother’s basement and began finishing off the crack and liquor that he had left in his pocket.
The basement was quiet and he could hear his mother and sister upstairs talking about how crazy and pathetic he was. He had recently stolen money and cigarettes from his mother’s cigarette case as well as pawned his younger sister’s class ring. Mike White had hit rock bottom.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)
“I didn’t care about other people and I wanted to die… I got on my knees and asked God to help me and since that day I’ve never been incarcerated again… I’ve been on a mission since then.” – Micheal White
White checked himself into the Talbot House addiction rehabilitation facility in Louisville, KY in December of 1995, and began taking things one day at a time. He had been in rehab many times before but something was different this time. This time he had the faith of God instilled in him as well as the will to live.
In 2000, after five years of sobriety, White started the furnace and air conditioning filter company, America’s Finest Filters (AFF), from the bedroom of his home. Today the company employs 21 people and operates out of a 48,000 sq ft. facility. The annual sales for AFF are well into the millions.
AFF provides air filter service for hundreds of buildings across the Ohio Valley region. AFF is also an authorized distributor for many filter manufacturers and sells filters locally, nationally and internationally.
Never forgetting his roots, White co-founded a Sober Living Home called, Our Father’s House, with another recovering addict, Darryl Wells in 2003. The recovery centers began with two small buildings holding 10-12 men, but have now grown to seven buildings that house 74 men.
The main office for Our Father’s House is located at 2310 W. Jefferson St. in Louisville, KY and the campus expands over that entire city block. The 16 week program is broken up into stages that are designed to transform recovering addicts back into productive members of society.
Residents begin their recovery at the main house. The next stage transitions them to the outer houses, which eventually leads to the campus apartments, if no violations occur. All residents are required to work and attend classes while participating in the program.
The recovery program used is called Recovery Dynamics from the Kelly Foundation. Our Father’s House doesn’t only focus on rehabilitation but it also provides men with a curriculum to change their habits and way of thinking. Meditation and Criminal Thinking are a few of the courses implemented into the recovery program.
White is very hands-on with the recovery program. His air filter business, AFF, employs several recovering addicts that have gained sobriety through Our Father’s House. AFF is also the primary financial sponsor of the recovery center.
“I got sober December 16th of 1995… I had to go through a lot to get there, but that’s the whole reason that I do anything that we do… It ensures my sobriety… It helps me stay sober. So the more I help other people – the more I stay sober – and the more I hold people accountable for helping other people.” – Micheal White
Addiction recovery isn’t the only type of mentoring that exists in White’s life. He also routinely visits inmates in prisons and provides them with hope, encouragement and guidance to help them make better decisions in their lives.
Micheal White is truly one of Louisville’s Guardian Angels.