Sep 17, 2017 Battling addiction: Husband, wife receive help from local programs
by Donna Lampkin Stephens
Kyle and Alana Schumacher of Conway knew that in order for their marriage to survive, they needed help.
“We needed to develop a relationship with Christ and to beat this addiction,” Kyle Schumacher said.
After a number of fits and starts, the couple, both 31, found that help at Renewal Ranch, a faith-based rehabilitation facility for men, and the Harbor Home, a faith-based residential community for women.
The Schumachers are the first husband-wife graduates of the two programs.
“As I look at Kyle Schumacher and his time with us at Renewal Ranch, it’s a beautiful picture when we see a family restored and children get a healthy father back, and a wife gets a healthy husband back and the home gets a spiritual leader,” said James Loy, executive director of Renewal Ranch. “That’s a beautiful picture to me of God’s restoration.
“Addiction is destroying families in our society. It’s a beautiful picture of God’s grace and his mercy, and how when Jesus gets hold of your life, he can transform you.”
Lauralise Hodges, program director at the Harbor Home, said she had seen a major transformation during Alana Schumacher’s time in the program.
“She came in pretty sick, but she became one of our best residents,” Hodges said. “It was a process that happened over time, but God just miraculously transformed her life.”
IN THE BEGINNING
Kyle Schumacher, who graduated from St. Joseph High School in 2004, said he started experimenting with marijuana and alcohol when he was 13 or 14. But after having his wisdom teeth removed when he was 16, he was prescribed oxycodone. He got hooked.
“It spiraled on from there,” he said.
After graduation, he went on to Northwest Arkansas Community College in Rogers. “I didn’t do too well,” he said. “I partied too much.”
He came home and worked at a paper mill in Morrilton before attending the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton. He didn’t do well there, either.
He met Alana, a Conway High graduate, at a New Year’s Eve party in 2010. “I walked through the door and we made eye contact, and the rest is kind of history,” he said.
But it was not a smooth road to their happily-ever-after.
Alana had two children from a previous relationship. The couple began dating, fell in love — and “started getting into our addiction,” she said.
“He was already addicted to painkillers,” she said. “It started out recreational for me.”
Kyle takes the blame for getting Alana hooked. “100 percent, I am the reason,” he said.
Kyle said over the years he had been to eight or nine secular rehabilitation centers. “I’ve had lots of tries at it,” he said. “Sometimes I was there six months; sometimes 30 days; sometimes a couple of days. Nothing worked.”
Kyle said after he attempted suicide on Thanksgiving Day in 2011, his parents told him about Renewal Ranch, and he got into the program on Christmas Day.
Renewal Ranch, located in Perry County, was established “because men are dying in need of a savior and families and communities are being destroyed by the vicious cycle of drug and alcohol addiction … This is a place dedicated to restoring broken lives through Christ where men with addictions can develop a personal love relationship with Jesus and God will be glorified.”
But Kyle lasted just three months in Renewal Ranch’s six-month Phase 1.
“I was really coming out of my darkness and developing this relationship (with Jesus),” he said. “I was raised Catholic, but because of my drug use in high school, it didn’t have an effect on me. I wasn’t a believer.”
He said he was saved on Super Bowl Sunday 2012 — Loy’s birthday. “That night, Dr. (Larry Pillow) and James Loy led me to the Lord,” Kyle said. “I was baptized on March 11, 2012, my birthday.”
But just days later, his progress was interrupted.
“Unfortunately, I ended up getting high at the ranch,” he said. “One of my friends there brought some stuff in, and I took it.”
He hid the behavior for a couple of weeks. “But I felt convicted and told on myself and was dismissed,” he said.
Returning home, he and Alana fell back into their addiction.
“I went to jail,” Kyle said. “I had about nine months of sobriety, and then I relapsed again. In that time, I reconnected with the Ranch and started coming back around, but I fell off again. I had lots of ups and downs.
“I had a desire to change, but it wasn’t in God’s timing. I had to go through some more stuff to be strong enough to beat the addiction, to get sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Kyle and Alana were married in May 2014. Sons Asa, now 4, and Kirk, 3, joined Lucy, 11; and Levi, 9.
“We were trying to get clean, but it was not a good situation,” Alana said. “We lost all our support from our parents, our family, our friends. They didn’t want to deal with it anymore.”
But the seed of success had been planted in Kyle during his stay at Renewal Ranch, and he told Alana he needed to return.
“He knew there was something special about that place,” she said. “He told me, ‘I want to go back to the Ranch. I feel like God is calling me back there. I don’t think I’ll ever get clean if I don’t go back.’”
But Kyle remembered that Alana told him, “You’d better not do that and leave me with these kids.”
The worst was yet to come.
On Jan. 13, 2016, Kyle was arrested for domestic battery, a Class D felony.
It wasn’t the first time.
“We were both under the influence,” he said. “I really don’t remember that night. I blacked out and ended up in jail.”
A no-contact order was issued, and he was released to Renewal Ranch on Feb. 1. Alana became a single mom of four. “I felt at home at the Ranch,” Kyle said. “I knew that was where God wanted me to be, that I was doing what I was supposed to do.”
After the no-contact order was dismissed, Alana was able to visit him. “She was telling me everything was OK, that she was not taking prescription drugs, and I believed her,” Kyle said. “She made it a point to not get high and come see me.”
He graduated from Phase 1 in August 2016 and came home to work on Phase 2. “But the day after graduation, I caught my wife using again,” he said. “That was the day I relapsed.”
He said while at the Ranch, his heart had softened toward his wife and children, and he wanted to be home. But when he realized Alana was still using, he knew he had to make a decision.
“I made the wrong one,” Kyle said. “I didn’t want to leave my wife and kids, so I started getting high.”
In late October, his Renewal Ranch mentor noticed something was different.
“They came and did a surprise drug test at my house, and I failed,” Kyle said. “When that happened, I went to James and told him I’d made a huge mistake and I would do whatever I could to get back in the program. He allowed me to go to detox for three days and then come back to the Ranch for Phase 1.”
And that was the beginning of Alana’s salvation.
“James Loy was pivotal in helping my wife get in the Harbor Home,” Kyle said. “I basically told her, ‘This isn’t going to work unless we get you some help,’ and she agreed. She broke down.”
Alana said she had already noticed some changes in Kyle after his time at the Ranch. “I knew there was something different about him because God was involved,” she said. “I had felt kind of left behind. I didn’t have anybody. I didn’t have the tools to know how to get better.
“But I wanted what he had.”
Added Kyle: “She’d been home for six months, taking care of the kids by herself, and she felt like she was left all alone. We both knew we were living wrong. We both knew there was a better way, that our kids deserved better.”
After a month back in Phase 1, Kyle moved to RR apartments for Phase 2.
“I knew the Phase 2 apartments were my next step to getting back to society,” he said. “I wanted the accountability. I knew it was a safer way for me.”
In December, Alana went to the Harbor Home, a similar but unrelated program to Renewal Ranch.
According to its website, the Harbor Home “is a faith-based residential community that provides training and assistance to women whose lives are in crisis due to addiction issues, behavioral and lifestyle struggles.”
The couple’s four children were dispersed among their parents, siblings and friends, who rallied to help them. “When they found out Harbor Home was a six-month program, they said, ‘OK, we’ll take this kid; we’ll take this kid. We need to get you in there,” Alana remembered.
The children went to four separate homes from January until school was out in May. “It was a difficult time,” Kyle said.
He moved home a few weeks before his Phase 2 graduation June 24. Alana came home a few weeks after he did and graduated July 15.
But their nuclear family isn’t their situation’s only winner.
“Every time my mom sees me, she tells me how proud she is of me,” Alana said. “My dad talks to me different. Now that I’ve got nine months under my belt, I feel like he’s pretty hopeful. Our relationship’s a lot better.”
During her Harbor Home graduation in July, Kyle washed Alana’s feet.
“I wanted to do something so special, to show her my love, not just say it,” he said. “That was the way Jesus showed his love for his disciples, and I couldn’t think of anything better to do. God put it on my heart, and I followed through with it.”
He said he was “just so proud of her” because the decision to seek help was hers.
“I was court-ordered to Renewal Ranch, although I wanted to be there,” he said. “She went (to the Harbor Home) because she knew it was the right thing to do.
“She had never gone to rehab, never had legal problems. I caused this. But she wanted to get clean. She was the missing piece of the puzzle. I would never be able to do it on my own, and she would never be able to do it on her own.”
Today, the couple is “truly blessed to work for great Christian bosses” in Kyle’s job with First Glass of Arkansas and Alana’s with Yours Truly Consignment.
“Coming out of rehab, a safe environment is a necessity,” he said.
The couple works together now to run the Wednesday night children’s ministry at the Harbor Home church. “God has replaced the desire to use drugs and alcohol with the desire to do ministry work,” Kyle said. “Harbor Home has recognized that and given us this opportunity.”
Loy praised the couple for recognizing and conquering their issues.
“It takes great courage to say, ‘What I’m doing is not working, and I’m going to try something else,’” he said.
Hodges said she told Alana, “As difficult as this ministry is, if it would’ve just been you, it would’ve been worth it all.”
Loy said the Schumacher story was a faith-builder.
“What we have done in addiction recovery in this country hasn’t worked well, and there is more and more statistical proof that a faith-based approach is more effective,” he said. “We’re unashamedly Christ-centered and faith-based and will remain so.
“For every success story, we give God all the glory. For the ones who don’t make it, it is heartbreaking and very gut-wrenching. But we hope that even if a man stumbles, a foundation has been laid, that he has some tools that can help him be successful.
“We all fall short at times. We all make poor choices. Thank goodness our God is a God of another chance — not just second chances.”
A NEW LIFE
Alana said her life now was completely different than it was a year ago. “This time last year, I was just dark,” she said. “Hopeless. Now I feel like I can have a normal life. I have a job; just the little things — cooking and cleaning and doing things with my kids. My desires have changed; what I want in my life has changed. I have hope.
“I wake up in the morning and know I don’t need anything except my relationship with God. It’s exciting, and for once, I’m excited about my future.”
The couple doesn’t balk at sharing such a personal story.
“It’s not at all hard to talk about it,” Kyle said. “Revelation 12:11 says we overcome the Devil by the blood of the lamb and the power of testimony. There’s no testimony without victory, and I believe these stories have to be shared for those struggling with the same things.”