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Watch 2022 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Conversation with Lonny Shattuck

John Bradshaw - Conversation with Lonny Shattuck


John Bradshaw - Conversation with Lonny Shattuck
TOPICS: Conversations, Addiction, Freedom

Today he operates his own business and is happily married, but turn the clock back not very far and you'll meet someone who was caught in addiction. He spent time in jail again and again, multiple stints in rehab, many convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol. But God intervened, not only gave him hope but turned that life of defeat into a life of victory. He's Lonny Shattuck, I'm John Bradshaw, and this is our conversation.


John Bradshaw: Lonny Shattuck, thanks so much for joining me.

Lonny Shattuck: Thank you for having me.

John Bradshaw: I'm looking forward to learning a little bit more about your story. I know how it ends; the result is sitting right in front of me, but it wasn't always this way. Let's go back to the beginning. Where are you from originally?

Lonny Shattuck: I'm from here, from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

John Bradshaw: All right, so you're here at home?

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: All right. Did you grow up here, or did life take you other places?

Lonny Shattuck: I didn't grow up here. My parents divorced when I was at a young age.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Lonny Shattuck: And I kinda moved all over the place.

John Bradshaw: All right. So here, there, and everywhere.

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Here's what I know. We'll fast forward a little bit. You found yourself caught in addiction. About how old were you when you really started getting into the grip of this?

Lonny Shattuck: I was at the age of 11 or 12 when I started dabbling with cigarettes.

John Bradshaw: Okay. And that progressed to?

Lonny Shattuck: Alcohol.

John Bradshaw: And that progressed to?

Lonny Shattuck: Marijuana. And then...

John Bradshaw: That progressed to?

Lonny Shattuck: ...on up to the harder stuff.

John Bradshaw: Okay, about how old were you when you were as deep in as you were ever gonna get?

Lonny Shattuck: 14. I was a full-blown alcoholic time I was 14 years old.

John Bradshaw: 14 years of age.

Lonny Shattuck: My first treatment center I was 16.

John Bradshaw: You've been in treatment several times. How many times?

Lonny Shattuck: Nine altogether.

John Bradshaw: Nine?

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Well, we'll talk about treatment and treatment centers and rehab a little later because, just knowing you, within nine times raises all kinds of questions. Let's back up ever so slightly. How does a 14-year-old get to be addicted to alcohol? Let's talk about that, the technical aspects; then we'll look at the emotional aspects. What happens that a 14-year-old's got unbridled access to alcohol to the extent that he can be a full-blown alcoholic?

Lonny Shattuck: Well, my mom remarried, and he happened to be an alcoholic.

John Bradshaw: There we go.

Lonny Shattuck: So I had access to it, and he actually gave it to me. He would sneak it to me from time to time, and I liked it.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Lonny Shattuck: And, you know, there was a lot of turmoil in the home, him being an alcoholic, and, like, my first memory of childhood was a lot of anger in the house. So when I had that first drink, it kind of was a way of escape for me.

John Bradshaw: You started smoking young, drinking young. You moved on to what we might call "soft" drugs, but I don't think there's too much soft about marijuana, to be honest with you.

Lonny Shattuck: No.

John Bradshaw: And then hard drugs. So let's talk for a second about what opens the door to... I don't just mean addiction, but to that kind of destructive lifestyle. What was going on in your life personally that you feel might have predisposed you to this? You've already mentioned divorce; that's unsettling. Your mother's marriage to an alcoholic; that's destabilizing. What else had happened in your life, if there was anything, that might have left you vulnerable to addiction?

Lonny Shattuck: Well, early on in my life at an early age, I was sexually molested at the age of seven by a teenage boy in our apartment building. And I knew when it happened that I felt dirty, I felt guilty. And it just brought all kind of feelings on that I didn't know how to deal with, you know, being exposed to sex at an early age. And it being another male, on top of that, really traumatized me. And then throughout my life, after I became an addict, there was multiple men in my life that I looked up to as father figures because my dad wasn't there, 'cause they were divorced, and I was all over the place, and they sexually molested me as well. And it's just...it's hard to describe...

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

...the feelings that came on. I just wanted to numb 'em, and then my addiction just progressed.

Hmm. What did this do to... I'm talking about the addiction now or maybe the whole picture... what did this do to what might otherwise have been a normal existence? Did you hang with a good crowd or a bad crowd? Did you...were you able to go through all the usual checkpoints of high school life, for example? Or did this just kinda bump some of that?

Well, it kinda bumped some of that. I, throughout my elementary years, I was using. So, but I got into the bad crowd. I was a kind of a leader. I wasn't much of a follower. So I would... be a bad influence on those around me, unfortunately. By the time I got to high school, I wasn't too much interested in school. Like I was saying, by the time I was 14, I was a full blown alcoholic. And I didn't show up to school, you know? I eventually quit school at the age of 16 and worked full time. I was living with a gentleman at the time. I left home at the age of 14, and I moved in with an older gentleman, who was also molesting me. But he would supply me with drugs and alcohol, and that was the attraction to me.

Was your mom aware of some of this turmoil going on in your life?

No, she wasn't.

No?

She knew I smoked and that I dabbled in drinking a little bit, but she didn't know anything about the drugs.

She didn't have any idea of the extent of what you're into?

No.

What if she'd have known?

I don't think it would've made much difference because at that point in my life I was doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. And that was part of the reasons I left at an early age because she started putting stipulations on me. And I knew if I moved in with this gentleman that I could do what I wanted when I wanted.

So when the molestation began to occur in that situation, what was your...did you think of fleeing or running, getting out of there? Or what was it that kind of made you stay?

Well, what made me stay was that I was able to get the drugs I wanted. It didn't cost me anything except for... well, it costed me...my dignity. You know, but the sick thinking of an addict... well, or of myself at that time...was, you know, I was, although I was having, being molested, I was benefiting from it because, you know, it felt good. But...although afterwards or even during, the guilt and the shame that came along with it, it just...it's hard to explain. It really is.

What did it turn you into? Were you still you, or did this make you especially angry or especially violent or especially... how did this manifest itself in negative ways? If it did, what did it do to your character, your personality?

It did. It caused a lot of anger in my everyday life, being arrested multiple times for DUI, assault on a police officer, possession, just...bar fights, you know, you name it. It would just cause a lot of anger. I couldn't... I'm the type of person I get along with everybody, but when it gets to a certain point, I'm not the same person anymore. I'm like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. And...there's one instance that I wanted to share with you that's come up that I'll never forget, that...

Mm-hmm.

...I was living with my mom again later on in life when I was older, and she had one stipulation: that I don't drink in her house. Of course, I couldn't abide by that rule and I showed up one night drunk, and she got on me about it. And I went off on her. I shoved her up against the wall, and I cussed her out and put my fists through the wall next to her head simply because she asked me not to drink in her house.

Mm.

That was the type of person I became.

Mm. In your moments of reflection, you're a young man using all kinds of substances. You can see...I mean, you don't go away from an exchange like that feeling proud of yourself. As you reflected on what you were and what you'd become, what were you saying to yourself about yourself?

I didn't like myself at all.

Did you see a way out of that? Did you think, "Well, next week I'll change. A year from now, I'll be different; 10 years from now, I'll be a different person"? Or did you look into a future that looked, in your thinking, a lot like your present?

Well, I tried multiple times to get help because I knew I needed to change because there were many times that I had OD'ed, and I thought I was going to die. I felt like I was going to die.

Did it worry you that you might die?

Sometimes it didn't; sometimes I really wanted to die because of the way my life was going. But I would seek help at times. I tried a psychiatrist; I tried treatment centers, doctors; you name it, I tried everything. And there's one thing that my grandmother used to always tell me, though. She used to say, "Son, all you need is Jesus". But I didn't wanna listen to that because I wasn't ready to change.

You know, that's important, too, because we know that God is the solution for everything. We also know that an addict often needs... now, don't hear me wrong... an addict often needs more than Jesus. What I mean is Jesus and a support group, Jesus and counselors, Jesus and a support system around that person. So, we should probably talk about that a little later because one thing I wanna ask you right now is this. Talk to many people about addicts, even addicts in their own family, and they'll say something like, "They just need to snap out of it. Why didn't they just change? Why didn't they just walk away from the drugs, walk away from the alcohol"? Not that simple, is it?

No, it isn't.

And why is it not?

Well, after I became an addict, I've studied on it a little bit, but I know for a personal fact that it takes a hold of your whole being mentally, physically, spiritually. And for me to feel normal, I had to have some kind of substance in me. And throughout my life, the only time that I was out a substance is whether I was incarcerated or I would go through a treatment center, but even then I would get high in jail, or I'd get high in treatment. There's access to it there, too, so, I really didn't have any time, long-time period to where I was without a substance in my body.

Mm.

Because when I was without it, I wasn't myself. It would...I would have withdrawal. It would affect me mentally and physically without it.

About how old were you when you finally, finally, finally broke free from drugs and alcohol?

I was 30 years old.

You were 30 when you got clean and sober?

Yes.

Okay, so we are talking about 15 years or thereabouts...

Right.

...of living a life of complete addiction.

Mm-hmm.

In that time you went to rehab on and off, didn't you?

Yes.

Okay. So, the first time you went to rehab, was it difficult to convince you to go, or did you wanna go?

It wasn't difficult 'cause I was given an ultimatum: You either go, or you lose this or that.

Okay.

But the first time I went through rehab, I was 16 years old.

And were you hopeful? Were you expectant? Did you think, "I'm gonna beat at this time," or you were just going through the motions?

I was just going through the motions. I was doing it for somebody else.

Okay. All right.

I wasn't doing it for me.

So the second time you went to rehab, what was different?

I was going to get outta trouble because I had multiple DUIs at this point... I believe I was 18...and just to appease the court.

Okay, so both those times you went to rehab, but your heart really wasn't in it.

No.

Even when your heart is in it, no guarantee you're gonna get off the substances you hooked on, right?

No, no guarantee. Yeah, you... I found out over the multiple times of trying to get clean that I had to do the heart work. I had to deal with my secret sins and my demons, which for me were multiple, but the main one was the molestation that happened to me in my life.

Interesting. So without dealing with that, you might not have got beyond addiction?

No, I don't believe so.

Okay, what does it mean to deal with something like that? Something that was done to you, how do you, to use your words, deal with it?

Well, I had to expose it, get it out of me because I would...the guilt and shame would stay.

Does that mean discuss it with somebody?

Yes, sir, it means that I talked with a counselor, or I talked with a group. I had to get over the scaredness of exposing that because there's a stigma of being a male and being molested and...

Yeah.

...you know, talking about it.

Yeah.

'Cause you're afraid they're gonna look down on you or think you're less than a man.

So working through some of that was absolutely vital to addiction. I wanna take a moment... I run the risk of repeating something here. I want you to describe for me what it's like... to be an addict. And what I mean is what does your day look like? What's going through your mind? I want people watching... maybe if they've never had this before...to come away with an understanding of, "Oh. So that's what's going on in the mind and in the body of someone who's addicted". Because not all addicts are scoundrels.

No.

Many are otherwise perfectly good people who got addicted, maybe to something that was prescribed to them. So what goes on in the body and in the mind of an addict, particularly that which prevents a person from just snapping out of it?

Well, like I was saying before, after I became an addict at an early age that, yeah, I needed it to function. I would wake up in the morning; first thing I would have, it was a drink and a cigarette. And just start the day, just to feel normal and not feel sick. With alcohol, it affects you physically, as far as the shakes, and you can't think straight. And...so, you know, I wouldn't be able to even think straight or function without it. And... it would affect how I dealt with people. I wasn't able to keep a marriage. I went through...I'm on my third marriage and because of my verbal abuse and my physical abuse that they... I don't blame 'em for not staying with me. And...I just, I just wasn't a normal person, you know? I...

Why can't addicts just change?

Well, because it takes a hold of you mentally that I felt like I needed it to exist. And I did actually; I did until I got to a place to where I could be separated from it, and when I detoxed, I had to have a medical detox because it could kill you. And, I mean, coming off of alcohol it could kill you. But I had to be in a place where I was supervised to come off of it. I couldn't do it on my own. I had to have help. And I had to get to a point where I had to ask for help. You know, I would try it on my own. I tried over many, many, 20-some years to do it on my own.

And none of that, there was no progress?

There was no progress at all.

Were you employable during these years?

Off and on. You know, I would keep a job long enough to get some money in my pocket, and then I would quit because I have to stay high or stay home and get high, because that took precedence over everything else.

But if you don't have a job, you don't have money; if you don't have money, how do you get high?

I stole from my mom. I stole from my family. I stole from other people. I pawned every possession I ever had. You know, whichever way I could do it to get my fix. 'Cause I did it. You don't have any morals anymore. You lose all moral compass.

Because you're guided, completely governed by that addiction?

Yes.

John Bradshaw: We know how the story ends, here you are, clean and sober and for many years so it has a good ending. We're gonna progress through the story just a little bit more as we go on. It's a wonderful story, a story of redemption, a story of salvation. He's Lonny Shattuck, and I'm John Bradshaw. This is "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written.

John Bradshaw: Thanks for joining me on "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. My guest is Lonny Shattuck. Lonny, we have talked about your descent into addiction, what it's like to be trapped there. You, if I am right about this, went to rehab nine times. But thankfully the ninth time was the final time. What does rehab look like? What's rehab? For those of us who are the uninitiated, what do you do? What is it?

Well, for me, the rehab that worked for me... I tried NA, AAC, AA...all of those over the years and the 30-day...

Yeah.

...90-day, 60-day programs.

But you went to a residential place.

Yes.

Now, so talk to me, just walk through what happens in the typical residential rehab, and I don't mean to just focus on the one where you ultimately found success. But what can a person expect from these sort of places? And then we will zero in about maybe what was different about where you ultimately were delivered.

Well, it was a place where I could come with people who had the same problems that I have. That I could... it was just structured environment. It was disciplined. What my experience is the 30-, 90-day programs aren't very successful.

And why is that, do you think?

Because it took me 20-something years to get in the place that I was in. So I knew it was going to take me longer than that to overcome it.

Right.

And then I knew that it had to be more than just what I was learning in them places. I needed to give God a try.

Why did you or how did you come to the realization that you needed to give God a try?

Well, first off, is what my grandmother always told me.

Uh-huh.

Before I went to this last program...and I was telling you that the situation where I went through what I did to my mother... she sat me on the front porch of my mom's house, and instead of calling the police to come pick me up 'cause I was being so violent, she sat me down and said, "Son, all you need is Jesus". And I knew at that point that I had tried everything else out there but God.

So your grandmother was a woman of faith?

Yes.

Was your mother?

She was raised in the church.

John Bradshaw: But never really made it her own?

Lonny Shattuck: No.

John Bradshaw: Okay, so by the time it filtered down to you, you weren't really raised with any religion at home?

Lonny Shattuck: No.

John Bradshaw: No, okay. So you really were just sort of making it out there on your own?

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Lonny Shattuck: I knew there was a God because something was keeping me alive.

John Bradshaw: Multiple DUIs.

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: So you... took some pretty significant risks along the way. Did you ever have any lucky escapes where you got to the end of the day and felt like "I could have killed myself today"?

Lonny Shattuck: Multiples times.

John Bradshaw: Really?

Lonny Shattuck: I mean, I drove for 13 years without a driver's license, so, many times. And there wasn't a time where I wasn't high and behind the wheel.

John Bradshaw: The real danger, too, is not just the harm you could have done to you.

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Do you ever shake your head thinking about what might have been, what the harm you could have done others?

Lonny Shattuck: I'm thankful to God that many times that I haven't killed somebody...

John Bradshaw: Could have happened.

Lonny Shattuck: ...including myself.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, yeah, it could have happened. So there you were; you tried rehab numerous occasions. You weren't holding down a job. You were stealing to support your habit, just, I mean, the regular addict stuff. You had...did you have a... funny question based on what you said a moment ago... but did you have a generally a good relationship with your mother, or that just crated?

Lonny Shattuck: Yeah, I did, and I'm glad you mentioned that because the one thing that I told her when I did get sober was I said, "Mom, I wish you wouldn't have kept bailing me out over the years, that maybe I would've got clean sooner". Because she would pay my bills; she would bail me outta jail; she would get me cars after I wreck one or pond one and couldn't get it back. So you know, I loved my mom, and she was there for me, but I think that she hurt me in a lot of ways because she was enabling me.

That enabling behavior?

Yes.

Okay. You went to rehab...ninth time. Did you ever say along the way, "Forget it, I've been twice. I've been four times. I've been seven times. Why waste my time"? Those words ever come outta your mouth?

No, it didn't really come outta my mouth that I didn't need rehab. But when my grandmother set me down on the porch and told me I needed Jesus, she told me of a program; at the time it was in California, that was a Christian-based program. And... like I said, I tried everything out there but God, and I said, "Well, why not give that a try"?

Let me ask you this: Even when rehab was failing you... or you were failing rehab, however you put it...

Mm-hmm.

...could you walk away from those treatment facilities and say, "There was a lot of good there"? Or did you just walk away saying, "None of this makes sense"?

Oh, there was a lot of good in a lot of them.

And you recognize that?

Oh yes, yes.

Okay, so if you were to back up, before you hit the home run, when you'd leave rehab and there was a lot of good... couple of questions: first, why did you just slide right back at... oh, let me ask you this: How quickly, typically, did you go from rehab to using again?

It was a very short period of time.

Did you go weeks and months?

Maybe 30 days at the most.

And what about at the least?

At the least, I would get high in the treatment center, so that would be the least.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, okay.

Lonny Shattuck: But yeah, there was times where, you know, I would go to meetings and stuff like that that was required, but my heart wasn't in it. You know, I was still hanging out with the wrong people. I would even meet people that were in these meetings that would share drugs with me. And as addicts we know who we can go to and who we can talk to to get what we need.

You can just read people?

Oh yes. Yes.

Yeah. So did you ever come away from a over rehab place saying, "This was mostly good, but what I was missing was this"? Did you ever identify yourself a missing piece of the puzzle, or was it just, that was just going right by you and you didn't know?

Yes, there was a missing piece, and that was me making a commitment to God.

When did you realize that was the missing piece?

I think I really realized that sitting on the front porch with my mom.

And this was after how many stints in rehab?

Lonny Shattuck: At that point about seven.

John Bradshaw: Okay. Okay.

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

And the one incident that I was telling you about with my mother and her looking at me, looking in my eyes after I had put my fist in the wall next to her head, and her looking in my eyes and saying, "Son, I see the devil in your eye".

Oh, she said that?

Yes. That was a wake-up call. And when my grandmother set me down on my front porch and was talking to me about God and that she knew a place to go, it just hit me that that's what I needed to do.

So the dots started to connect at that time?

It did.

Okay. So grandma tells you there's a place, and it was in California?

Yes.

And where were you living at the time?

I was in Pikeville, Tennessee.

Oh. Oh, not very far from here.

Mm-mm.

Okay, so that's a long way. So you decided, "That's it, I'm gone"? Or did you fight the conviction, or did you argue with grandma, or what did you do?

No, I knew that's what I needed to do at that point.

Oh, that's interesting. Let me ask you to speak for every other addict that's ever existed. Is your experience pretty typical for what addicts go through in their thinking?

I think so.

Are they self-evaluating along the way, seeing their misses and their near hits and their "This could be better if"? Are there a number of addicts, do you feel like, making those connections in their mind?

Yeah, and I think that, you know, people know what they need to do. It's just, are they willing to do what it takes to do it?

And why would they not be willing it? This is the difference between life and death. Why wouldn't...I can't say...well, 95% of addicts say, "I've just got to do this"? What prevents them from doing that?

Well, for me, I had to be willing to give up everything.

And what was "everything"? What was that?

The way I was thinking, the way... give up smoking, to give up... cussing, I mean, just the whole lifestyle, the whole addict lifestyle. I have to give up the people that I hang out with.

How much of that was being willing to, versus fearing you might not be able to?

Well, at the point that I was at that time, I was willing to do that because I was tired of losing everything that I have ever tried to work for. My family didn't want anything to do with me anymore.

Mm.

I was tired of going to jail. I was tired, period.

Yeah.

I mean, at that point I was 30 years old, and I felt like I was 60 or 70 years old.

Mmm. Mm-mm-mm. So, you traveled across the country; you landed at this rehab place. Where was it?

It was in Grand Terrace, California.

Right next to Loma Linda?

Yes.

Okay. What was different here?

Well, this program, at that time it was 12 months. It wasn't, you know, short term.

And you'd never been in a program anywhere near that long?

Lonny Shattuck: No.

Okay.

No. And it was very structured and disciplined. I mean, you had a schedule you went by, you got up at a certain time, and you knew what you were doing at every given time.

Is that typical for rehab places?

Not all of them, no.

Okay, so it's not typical.

But, you know, the majority of 'em you have a schedule, but this one was different in the sense that it was long term ,and it was a work program as well.

Okay. So you were able to hold down a job?

Well, they had a business as well. They did landscaping, and the men would work to help pay for their stay, because as drug addicts and alcoholics, we ain't got any money.

Right.

And the program didn't... didn't throw people away if they didn't have any money. If you needed help...

They'd help you?

...they would help you.

That's outstanding. Okay.

And... all I had to do was do a phone interview. I did that before I left, I did an interview, they accepted me, and I had to get permission to leave the state of Tennessee 'cause I was on probation.

Uh-huh.

And I got on a plane and went out there. And there's one thing I like to mention, that I'll never forget, is when I got there... it is a Christian program...and I get there, and they happen to be off the next day. And they had worship, which I had never done before.

Wow.

And the director of the program asked me to pray, and I said, "Oh my goodness". I thought I was gonna die. But I did it, and I lived, so.

You did it. You survived the prayer.

Yes.

Oh wow. All right. What did that feel like, praying? You prayed in... that was a public prayer?

It was public, yeah. I had never done that before.

Wow. Wow, that's fascinating.

Very rarely would I even prayed myself, but even then, you know, praying in public with somebody, that was a no-no.

Uh-huh. So you arrived there, and how soon until you figured out this might be the thing?

I believe it was after I had been there, you know, 30 to 60 days.

Oh?

I had been clean.

Yeah?

And I started feeling feelings. I started feeling...'cause I hadn't been without a substance since I was 12, 13 years old at a long period of time.

Yeah, it's a fascinating experience, isn't it, when you come out of that long-term high, and you start to experience and feel regular emotions, and you respond to external stimuli in a different way.

Yes.

You were going through that thinking, "Oh, this is what it feels like to be normal".

Right.

Yeah? Did it feel good to be normal?

It did.

It did?

It really did. I really embraced the program because of the structure and discipline it had, too, because I didn't have that in my life. You know, I did whatever whenever I wanted, and, 'course it was always the wrong thing, and they were...and they showed me love. They introduced me to Jesus on a personal level.

The other rehab places you'd been at, were they faith based at all?

No.

This the first faith-based program?

Yes.

It's interesting to me; it was 30 to 60 days before you started to imagine, "This could be what I'm looking for". "This could be the program that'll deliver me".

Yes.

That's a long time, which...and the reason I wanna emphasize that is it speaks to anyone dealing with an addict.

Mm-hmm.

That it's not just the flip of a switch and they're normal again. This requires some intensive intervention over a period of time.

Yes.

Okay, so now you're 30 or 60 days in, and the light bulb goes on in your mind and says, "Lonny, this could be the new you; this could be your life". When that light bulb went on, did you embrace the light, or did you just wanna flip the switch?

Lonny Shattuck: I embraced it.

John Bradshaw: You did?

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: But what about the fears about, I mean, you can't have your old life, and there's some pretty good stuff about that old life from a carnal point of view, you know, from an unconverted point of view.

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Did you deal with, did you deal with having to lose your identity, your old identity? "I can't do this stuff anymore; I'm not gonna be the man, I'm not gonna smack a guy in the face in a bar anymore. I'm just instead you're gonna have to walk away in the parking lot before getting into a heated discussion". You were looking at being a completely new animal. Was that...was there a downside to what you were contemplating?

Lonny Shattuck: Not really, there really wasn't because at that point in my life I had lost everything.

John Bradshaw: Okay, so you were ready now?

Lonny Shattuck: I was ready. I was ready...

John Bradshaw: Yeah?

Lonny Shattuck: ...to find out who Lonny really was because I didn't know.

John Bradshaw: It's interesting.

Lonny Shattuck: 'Cause I started using at such an early age that I didn't know who I was, who God intended me to be.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, talk about that process of discovery. What did you start to learn about yourself?

Lonny Shattuck: I started to learn that I'm a pretty decent kinda guy.

John Bradshaw: And you'd never really entertained that thought for years and years?

Lonny Shattuck: Oh, I hadn't. I hadn't. I thought I was the lowest of the low. You know, I didn't think I was a lovable person at all.

John Bradshaw: Interesting.

Lonny Shattuck: I didn't love myself. And the people, the directors of the program, they showed me through a tangible way that I am worthy and that God loves me. And that... I could be the person he intended me to be, if I was willing to make changes in my life.

John Bradshaw: So you got through this program; you got to the end of what, 12 months?

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: And they open up the gate and...?

Lonny Shattuck: Well, there was a graduation afterwards. You have a regular graduation, just like you do from high school.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Lonny Shattuck: And then they had a transition home. So if you so choose to get a job or go to school, that you could move into the transition home. But I chose...they asked me to work for the program.

John Bradshaw: Mm.

Lonny Shattuck: And I chose to stay and become a house manager.

John Bradshaw: Why?

Lonny Shattuck: Because I knew I needed it. I needed more time.

John Bradshaw: See, I was gonna ask you this: To go live in that transition home, that's like taking the training wheels off.

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Remember taking the training wheels, which are useless things anyway, but taking the training wheels off my son's bike, and it was like, "Can we do this"?

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Can we do this? And even once you let him go on his own, is he gonna fall off?

Lonny Shattuck: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: So was there some fear in your mind: "If I go to that transition home, this might come unstuck"?

Lonny Shattuck: Not really because I knew that I had the support that I needed from this program and from the people involved. If I immersed myself in helping others, that I would stay on the right track. And that's what they taught us at the program is that you need to give back; you need to be of service.

John Bradshaw: So after all those years of using, you were confident that, "If I just aim in the right direction, I won't slip back; I didn't have to slip back"?

Lonny Shattuck: Yes, I was, but I'd like to say this...

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Lonny Shattuck: ...that at that point I got overconfident... that I was sober, I went through the program, graduated, worked for 'em. I was sober about... almost two years, and I got into a relationship, which I was told not to do, early in recovery. And I got into a relationship, and then the pressures of life built up, and I relapsed.

John Bradshaw: Mmm.

Lonny Shattuck: And I went back out there on the streets for another three years.

John Bradshaw: Ooh, that's a real relapse.

Lonny Shattuck: Yes, and I was on the streets of San Bernardino.

John Bradshaw: Not great streets.

Lonny Shattuck: No. I got mixed up with the Mexican mafia. I was shooting methamphetamines outta my head, in and outta psych wards all around the area, and I owed them money 'cause I was selling for 'em.

John Bradshaw: And that's a great place to leave this. How in the world do you come back from that? I don't know. But there had to have been miracles involved. And we will find out about those miracles momentarily. With Lonny Shattuck, I'm John Bradshaw. This is "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written.

John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. Lonny Shattuck moments ago told me something I wasn't expecting to hear. He got involved with the Mexican mafia while roaming the streets of San Bernardino in southern California. Brother, you were up to your neck in quicksand.

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: So, not only did you relapse and fall headlong into a life of addiction; this got really dangerous. So, what happened?

Lonny Shattuck: Well, as I mentioned, I... I went through multiple psych wards in the area, even the psych ward in the local jail there.

John Bradshaw: Mm-hmm.

Lonny Shattuck: And...I knew I needed to go back to where I got help. And I didn't mention, but I became assistant director of the program.

John Bradshaw: Oh.

Lonny Shattuck: You know, that was one of my titles after I became house manager and I worked my way up. And...when I relapsed...

John Bradshaw: You fell from a great height.

Lonny Shattuck: I fell real hard.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Lonny Shattuck: The guilt and shame that was there before was tenfold.

John Bradshaw: Did you have any contact with the people at the program during this time?

Lonny Shattuck: Yes, I had to come clean because working for a drug and alcohol program, using, just, the two didn't mix, and I had to give 'em my keys and the credit cards and everything, and that devastated me.

Yeah.

Because at this point in my life, that was... that was the only life that I had ever known to be decent.

Did you fear it was all over and you were going back to the old life, and you were gonna be just held there?

Yes, I did.

Did you fear that?

Yeah?

I did. And I like to say, you know, as an addict, when you relapse and go back, the addiction takes you over tenfold more than it was when you quit, and it did me. It took more and more for me to reach the same level that I had when I quit...two years prior.

So what happened to get you out of this hole?

Well, I had somebody gimme some money, 'cause I didn't have any, to leave California and make it back to Tennessee, because I tried to go back to the program where I got help, but at that point, they weren't ready to accept me back...

Mm.

...because of the position I held. And I understood that. But I came back here to Tennessee. My mom, I didn't tell her I was coming back. I just hopped a bus. And I showed up here in Chattanooga and called her, 'cause I knew if I let her know ahead of time, she'd say, "Son, don't come here".

Mm-hmm.

But she took me back, and I... I ran crazy here in Tennessee for another three years. I acquired another three DUIs within those three years...

Mm.

...assault on police officers and possession and driving on revoked, you name it. And sitting in a jail cell over in Dunlap, Tennessee, I wrote the program a letter and asked 'em if they would accept me back. And I was doing four months at that time for the charges I had, and they sent me a letter back and said they'd accept me.

Did that surprise you?

Lonny Shattuck: Yes, it did.

John Bradshaw: It did? Yeah?

Lonny Shattuck: It did.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Lonny Shattuck: But I'm so thankful they did.

John Bradshaw: Oh yeah. So you got outta jail and went back to California?

Lonny Shattuck: Yes, I had to get permission to leave the state again.

John Bradshaw: Right, right.

Lonny Shattuck: And I hopped a plane as soon as I could get the money together and went back, and this was in 2007.

John Bradshaw: This time, what was different?

I did heart work.

Didn't you do that before?

I thought I did, but I kept certain things secret the first time around. The molestation was one of the major things that I didn't expose.

That's interesting. Yeah. And airing that out made a big difference?

Yes, and come to find out, it wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be.

Ahh.

It was all, you know, within myself. I think it actually was Satan; he was saying, "Oh, you don't need to bring that up. You just keep it to yourself, you know? Them people ain't gonna like you if you tell 'em that". But it was further from the truth, and come to find out, the men that were sitting at the table that I exposed it to said it happened to them too.

Mmm.

You know, I found out even working through the program that...I would say 80-90% of the people who have addictions have been molested in some form or fashion or have molested somebody themselves.

You have to start asking questions there about correlation and causation. I doubt that there are very many people in society who understand how truly devastating that kind of sexual abuse really ends up being, 'cause as you are making it clear, it's absolutely devastating. This time around, a year, 18 months? How long was the course this time?

It went from a year to 18 months.

Okay, now, it was 18 months?

Yes, it was 18.

And you graduated again?

Yes.

They conferred the diploma on you again. I suppose by now you had a master's, not just a degree.

Yeah. Well, I wanted to let you know this, that the director decided to keep me 24 months.

Oh, is that so?

He kept me a little longer; he thought I needed it, which I did. I actually needed longer than that.

Oh wow, wasn't that...wise on the part of the director?

Yes. Yes.

So you came through this time, and what do you think made the difference this time, second time around after the first time?

As I said, I did the heart work, and I was fully committed to do whatever it took. You know, I was willing to stay there as long as they wanted me to. I listened to what they told me and not what I wanted to do. You know, the first time I went through that program, I didn't listen to them when they said, "Don't get into a relationship too early".

Right.

"Don't get too stressed out," you know, and that sort of thing. And this time I listened.

Let me ask you this, I'm rewinding a little bit here, but what was it about getting into a relationship that prior time that opened the door to what ended up being a destructive cycle of behavior?

Well, it took the focus off of me, you know, and my relationship with God. All the focus went through the relationship. And I, at that point I still didn't really know who I was, and I was new to a relationship with God. I was new to the church 'cause I was, you know, still a baby; it has only been, at that point, maybe two years clean and sober.

Yeah. Yeah. Now you're launching again. Talk with me about... how having a relationship with Jesus strengthened you and kept you during what otherwise might have been another downward spiral. What role did faith play in your deliverance from addiction?

Well, it was a learning process, of course, but it played a part in that, that I'd seen Jesus as a friend and someone who I could confide in and talk to. And that helped me throughout, you know, the trials that I would have in sobriety, as well as keeping Christians around me who had my best interest at heart, and faith, people who were, you know, of the same. I... people who, like I said, had my best interest at heart.

Mm. Mm-mm-mm-mm. Yeah, that's important.

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: So when did you know this time around that it worked and wasn't gonna fail? When did you get to the place "I have passed the point of no return; I'm not going back"? And now, I understand we could go back tomorrow. You know, anyone can go back anywhere tomorrow, but you understand the question I'm asking.

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: When did you say, "I'm on solid rock; I have slain the dragon; I'm actually good now, yeah, good; I'm healthy now"?

Lonny Shattuck: When I made a commitment to Jesus...

John Bradshaw: How early in the process is that?

Lonny Shattuck: I would say it was probably a year after I had gotten sober that I'd seen the importance of my relationship with God and recovery.

John Bradshaw: You were still in the program at that time?

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Yeah?

Lonny Shattuck: Yes.

John Bradshaw: And so a year into that, what ended up being two years, you felt like, hey, this time it's really stuck.

Lonny Shattuck: Yes, and in...

Oh, that's interesting.

...in the Bible study, you know, God's word spoke to me that, you know, this is...this is what I need in my life that's gonna help me...

Yeah.

...to overcome these obstacles if I follow the guidelines. That's the key.

Yeah.

You know, before, I would read the Bible, but I wouldn't follow what it's telling me to do.

Yeah, important point that So, let me ask you this question: So what is it today... and how many years has it been since you got out of that, the final, the ninth rehab, how many?

Almost 16 years.

That almost 16 years later, what is it that keeps you or has kept you focused and is preventing you from going back to that lifestyle? I would say this; clearly the further away you get from it, the less attractive it seems.

Yes.

A day after, boy, the taste is still there in your mouth... 16 years later, you can look back at the foolishness of it. But what is it that keeps you focused, upright, and functioning healthy today and keeps you from going back to the old you?

Well, first and foremost is my relationship with God, my relationship with Jesus. Next to that is keeping people around me who are gonna hold me accountable.

Okay.

And people that I can talk to or if I have a...let's say I have a... you know, going down the road, there is a picture of whether it be sex or drugs or alcohol advertisement, and Satan throws them little thoughts in your head...

Yep.

...that I can expose that to people I can talk to, say, "Hey, this thought went through my head, and I need to just get it out. I need to get it outta my head, get it out, talk about it". And the other thing that's most important is being of service to other people, that it's keeping it fresh in my mind where I could be again.

Tell me why that's important, because I think it is, and I think the Bible makes it really clear that service to others is vital. But how do you see that in practical terms? Why is that important to your continued life of victory?

'Cause it's easy for me to forget where I used to be. I, you know, I need to try to help people because it makes me feel better about life in general. And it's a constant reminder of where I could be because, again, because I can forget so easy. It's, it's a daily thing that we have to keep in our minds that, as addicts, that we could always go back, but you have to do certain things on a daily basis to keep from going back. And starting out the morning with God is one of the major things, and then throughout the day keeping in communion with God and being around godly people and sharing with others my experience.

Yeah, and that's important too. So...

Yes. how much time do you spend... or maybe I don't mean how much time, but your intentional about sharing, about pouring into others, maybe speaking to groups or something.

Yes, I actually spoke at my wife's school here not too long ago to kids. That's where I really like to give my testimony is talking to kids, because that's where I started at an early age, and maybe they could get a handle on it earlier, to let them know where it will take 'em.

Yeah, society, I think sets our kids up for this. It glamorizes alcohol and immorality and glamorizes drug use and of course marijuana's legal in so many places these days, and people make excuses for it as though it's, you know, cotton candy, and it's anything but, so our kids are being set up for this. Okay, so you mentioned your wife?

Yes.

Now, you said earlier you've had previous marriages that failed for very, very obvious reasons.

Mm-hmm.

So this is different. So how do you come out of a really destructive lifestyle? And then you're entering into this really sacred marriage relationship. How do you approach it and say, "I'm gonna do this right, now; I'm not gonna mess it up like I did before"? And was that a big step to take, or did it just feel natural and, like, there weren't many problems?

It was a big step, but I gave myself plenty of time this time.

Yep.

I actually was sober five years before I ever thought about it. And I actually became a greeter in the church that I was attending just so I could meet people when I was ready to do that.

Yeah, that's the way.

Yes, and I actually met my wife doing that.

You met her at the door of the church?

I did.

Strategic thinking.

Yes.

Oh yeah, look at that. Well done.

Yeah.

Hey, so let me ask you about this: I'd like you to speak now, particularly for the benefit of those who have relationships with addicts, maybe someone whose son or daughter is an addict, maybe someone whose spouse is an addict. Is there advice that you would offer? Is there counsel you would extend to help the family of addicts navigate that really stormy sea?

Yes, I, just like I told my mom, you know, after I'd gotten sober, is not to enable 'em. You know, to love 'em, I think they call it tough love, but not to enable 'em to get their drugs and to let them suffer the consequences of their own actions. That would be one of the major things.

Okay.

But to continue praying for 'em, and I know I'm sitting here today because my grandmother prayed for me.

Yeah.

My mom prayed for me. My family prayed for me. And I honestly believe in intercessory prayer.

So did you get your relationship with your mother back? Did that turn around?

Lonny Shattuck: Yes, I did. She passed away here in 2016, but she got a chance to see me sober.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Lonny Shattuck: And I got a chance to have a good relationship with her during that time period before she passed.

What do you think your reunion with your grandmother is gonna be like one day?

"I was praying for you, son". I know that's what she's gonna say.

Yeah.

And she's gonna be grinning from ear to ear, I know that. And I actually got a chance to see her before she passed, too.

Oh yeah? So she passed away in 2007, right when I was going back to treatment, so...

Do you think when we all get to heaven, your grandmother will be surprised to see you?

I don't think so. I think that she's gonna, I know she's gonna be happy to see me, but I don't think she's gonna be surprised.

No?

Because she believed in prayer too.

She believed God was gonna answer her prayers?

Yes.

Yeah, I think that makes a difference.

It does.

John Bradshaw: Makes a great difference.

Lonny Shattuck: It does.

John Bradshaw: So somebody is addicted, or someone wants to talk to an addict, and they wanna say to that person, "Hey, you need help. You wanna get the kind of help that Lonny Shattuck got"? How do people go about finding that sort of assistance?

Lonny Shattuck: Well, you know, the program's not in California anymore. They recently moved to Huntsville, Alabama, and I'm still involved with them. I still go down from time to time, talk to the men, help out wherever I can. And they have a recovery home there in Huntsville, and it's still operating. It's still the program that it was when I went through it. And I would be happy to help anybody who needs help to be able to go.

John Bradshaw: What's the name of the place?

Lonny Shattuck: Drug Alternative Program. And it goes by DAP.

John Bradshaw: So, easy enough to find if you Google that?

Lonny Shattuck: Yes, there's, they have a website, and...

John Bradshaw: No doubt there are others that are effective, and thank God, but this is one that you know well, you serve with, you make a difference at, and it made a difference in your life as God worked through that program. This has been a great story.

Lonny Shattuck: Thank you.

John Bradshaw: Story of redemption, of transformation, and the bottom line is, whether it's substance abuse or some other thing, we all have to come to Jesus... independence and total trust and reliance...to get our addictions out of our lives, whoever it might be. Last question: What does Jesus mean to you today?

Lonny Shattuck: Jesus is a friend to me today...when, before, it was hard for me to even have the concept of Jesus as being a person. But today he's a friend to me. He's someone who helps me through daily challenges.

John Bradshaw: I wanna thank you, can't really thank you enough. It's been an inspiration for me, I know for many, and I just can't help but believe that you've offered hope in situations that before this program appeared to many people to be hopeless. Thanks very much, I appreciate it.

Lonny Shattuck: Thank you, John.

John Bradshaw: And we appreciate you. Thanks so much for being part of this. He is Lonny Shattuck, I'm John Bradshaw, and this has been our conversation, brought to you by It Is Written.
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