WINCHESTER, Va. (WDVM) — Born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia Bryon Johnson was introduced to drugs at a young age by his mother’s boyfriends and his father.
“It wasn’t really father’s son, it was getting high, robbing together, him od’ing, us being locked up in jail together,” said Johnson.
He grew up surrounded by violence and police expected him along with the other young boys in his neighborhood to grow up and become criminals.
“We was kind of set up for failure and going to prison, it was like you’re going to prison. I can say that because I remember even young in my own neighborhood if you walk the streets, they took pictures of you,” said johnson.
In 1994 he was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for drug possession and now years later, he’s using his experience to help others. He’s celebrating the one year anniversary of his sober-living recovery house, he’s the pastor at the church he started and most recently he’s published a book.
“They see that all things are possible because my life was torn up, like even from the beginning, like the beginning, beginning. It was already a mess,” said Johnson.
Bryant Harper is a member of the group that helped start the recovery house. He is also the recovery house manger, helping others turn their lives around.
“About two years into cocaine it switched to crack cocaine so probably from 30-40 a whole decade it was like a blur because I was getting high,” said Harper.
Both Johnson and Harper believe that addiction is a disease, and it takes compassion to help those struggling.
“It’s great to see people grow and evolve and move on with their lives. Like I said, get their families back, be with their wives, achieve some goals, get a job,” said Harper.
The House of Grace recovery house on South Loudoun Street in Winchester currently has two open beds.