Published November 20, 2019

Guest blog: One woman’s heartbreaking struggle with opioid use now provides hope for hundreds in Indiana

By Randy Davis, retired pastor and founder/president of A Better Life – Brianna’s Hope

Her name was Brianna. 

She spent nearly half of her life involved with drugs, and by age 25, she was dependent on those substances. On June 16, 2014, she was reported missing.

For the next 10 weeks, Brianna’s community, friends and family searched for her. Each one hoped and prayed for the best but feared the worst.

Her body was found in an abandoned cemetery in Jay County, Indiana, covered over with brush on Sept. 1, 2014. It was within 15 minutes of where she lived.

I knew about Brianna’s struggles with opioid use prior to her disappearance. At the request of her mother, I had visited with her twice while she was in jail. Both times, she had been incarcerated on drug-related charges.

When her disappearance was announced, I asked the family if I could walk alongside them during the journey. It was an invitation they welcomed. They allowed me to be a part of many intimate and frightening moments.

I was honored to officiate Brianna’s memorial service. It was then that my eyes were opened to what a community could no longer deny. I perceived the hurt, fear, pain and struggle of many in attendance as a cry for help.

Our area was failing to offer the struggler any hope from their current situation.

After much prayer and thought, I convinced myself that a sloppy start was better than no start. So, “A Better Life – Brianna’s Hope” began.

We set out to be a participant-driven, faith-based, compassion-filled support and recovery group for those battling substance use disorder. On Nov. 5, 2014, ABLBH held its first meeting in Redkey, Indiana – a community of about 1,300 people.

22 people struggling to overcome substance use or living in recovery came to that meeting.

Initially, we had no idea what our future might look like. We just prayed someone would show up on week two and that we would make a difference.

Five years later, we now have 36 chapters in 24 Indiana counties with more planning to open. We also have six chapters in four Ohio counties. Our total attendance at meetings is nearly 1,000 people, and we have been blessed to financially help over 900 strugglers get into treatment.

Throughout the years, we have spoken to over 20,000 K-12 students, offering them hope, help, encouragement and understanding. And we aren’t stopping there.

Though we pride ourselves in not force-feeding faith, we have had nearly 500 people commit or recommit to Christ. We believe in the words of Saint Francis when he said,

“Be ready to preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.”

We are not a 12-step program, nor is there anything anonymous about us. We are very flexible in our approach, though we stress certain standards, guidelines and accountability. We accept you as you are and believe the compassion of Christ can bring you closer to being the you that God created you to be.

Brianna’s life was an example of Genesis 50:20, which says: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

From the life of a young lady who struggled in the darkness comes a light that has touched, changed and saved innumerable lives.

Interested in learning more about the opioid crisis in Indiana, hearing more personal stories and finding ways to be part of the solution? Make plans to visit FIX: Heartbreak and Hope Inside Our Opioid Crisis at the Indiana State Museum – opening in February 2020. The exhibit will feature work from A Better Life-Brianna’s Hope and many others.
Interested in a chapter of A Better Life-Brianna’s Hope in your area or more info? Check out our website at or email us at [email protected].