BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Barry McNeil first tried crack to help him cope with the killing of his brother by a police officer.
It led to years of addiction, homelessness and separation from friends and family. Now, he wants others struggling with drugs to know that none of this has to happen to them.
McNeil shared his story of addiction and recovery on “Transformation Waves,” a new podcast from the Jimmie Hale Mission. It debuted in the fall, and the mission released the second episode, “Four Shots, Two Murders – Barry’s Story,” in January. It paints a vivid portrait of McNeil’s past – how addiction took hold, the effects it had, and how he finally broke its grip. It wasn’t easy recounting the details, but he felt it was important.
“Every time I tell the story, it hurts really bad to the soul, because every day I have to live with that,” McNeil said. “But I know God really wants me to share my story to help people.”
Barry is just one of the clients sharing their stories on the podcast, which should have a new episode every few weeks. Ryan Bartels, the mission’s communications coordinator, hosts the podcast. He said charity leaders created it to help people who haven’t battled addiction understand the perspectives of those who have.
“Not everybody who is on the street or addicted or both is doing this because they just wanted to,” Bartels said. “There’s usually triggers that happen. And understanding the condition of where a lot of our clients come from, I think, opens up a sense of empathy.”
Bartels believes these stories will help the mission connect with prospective volunteers, donors and partners. When they listen to the Episode 2, they’ll hear McNeil’s message of hope. After years of coming and going at the Jimmie Hale Mission, he finally stuck with the recovery program and completed it. Now he’s a leader and an encourager there, and he’s sharing his story for the benefit of others facing a similar struggle.
“I’m hoping it will help encourage somebody that’s on drugs that you don’t need drugs to feel good, to numb the pain, to substitute,” McNeil said. “You know, you don’t need that.”
The podcast is available on most podcast download services. You can also find it on the Jimmie Hale Mission’s website.