LaGRANGE — Kelly Camp was only 11 years old the first time she was arrested.
She was just 13 years old the first time she tried drugs. She skipped marijuana and dove head first into the hardcore, illegal narcotics: methamphetamine, Adderall and alcohol.
“I’ve been told I was a ‘table junkie,’” Camp explained. “Whatever was on the table, I took. I didn’t care.”
She said her addiction and erratic behavior continued until she was 19. Then — for the first time since her affair with drugs and alcohol began, and with two children at home plus 11 felonies on her criminal record — Camp entered rehab.
She admitted she mainly went to please the courts. Camp said once she finished treatment, it did not take long for her to relapse on meth. A month later, she lost custody of her daughter and was sent back to jail.
Her life remained in a constant limbo of addiction and recovery, and the consequences of her actions continued to pile up.
In 2006, after a stint in rehab and two weeks before she was due to regain custody of her two children, Camp was in a head-on collision on Highway 109 in Meriwether County. The crash killed Carmen Pratt, mayor of the city of Gay.
Camp survived, but was airlifted to a hospital with 56 broken bones. The medical staff gave her medications to ease her pain, which Camp said she quickly became addicted to and soon started injecting to make her feel better.
Soon, she found new ways to feed her addictions.
“I would walk into a church with my kids and tell the pastor that I just left an abusive marriage,” Camp said. “He’d have the church take up a love offering for me. It was all a lie. But I would walk right out of that church with that money and wouldn’t care.”
Camp was eventually arrested for the crash in Meriwether County and charged with second-degree vehicular homicide.
Despite the jail time, the pleas from her family and children to get help, and almost dying in the car accident, she said drugs still took top priority in her life.
“That stuff defined who I was. I was a liar, a manipulator and I didn’t care,” Camp explained. “I still had little minor overdoses … and then I found out I was pregnant again.”
After the baby was born, Camp still struggled with addiction and once again found herself behind bars.
During her last incarceration, something changed within her. She started reading her Bible and met faith-driven people like Wanda Walker who encouraged her to turn towards Jesus and away from the drugs.
When she was released from Troup County Jail on Sept. 26, Camp said she had few possessions on her, but a very clear mission from God.
“I walked out of that jail barefoot because they had lost my shoes,” she laughed. “He said, ‘Don’t turn right, don’t turn left. You’re not going back there, you’re not going back to that relationship.’ And in that month and a half, I’ve been blessed with a lot: shoes, a house, a job and seeing God’s love and what that really means.”
Camp said God also gave her a vision to help other addicts in the community, and she plans to heed his calling on Nov. 14 with a special event called Break Every Chain Recovery Revival.
“This is a community effort,” she explained. “God’s calling all of us to cast down addiction in this town … We all need to come together and seek a solution to the problem. It will be powerful … it’s going to be a huge day of deliverance. I’m excited … sometimes I can’t sleep at night I’m so excited.”
According to Camp, drug and alcohol addiction touches one in two families in LaGrange, whereas in Atlanta it affects one in three.
Special guest speakers for the event include Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff, Georgia State Patrol Trooper George Cotton and others. Camp said she and at least 10 other former addicts also will give their testimonies.
There will be a special “chain breaking” ceremony to help folks symbolically shatter the grip of whatever addiction may have a hold on them, Camp stated.
“Everyone is recovering from something,” she said. “There are chains holding us back … chains holding us back from breaking addiction … holding us back from God. Most people don’t know Jesus gave us the power to break free from those chains …. I fully intend to tell the truth of my struggles … hopefully people will be delivered and we can raise awareness (about addiction.)”
Camp said she has been clean since June 18, and she has big plans for the future. She hopes to one day become a substance-abuse counselor and help bring a faith-based inpatient treatment center to Troup County.
Camp believes all her struggles with drugs and alcohol in the past were not in vain.
“I used to resent it (her drug addiction issues), but now I understand it,” she said. “It was all in preparation for this.”
Break Every Chain is set for 6 p.m. Nov. 14 on Lafayette Square. Live Music 808 will be ministering through song and praise, plus there will be several tents on hand with different counseling services and pastors for people who want prayer.
Camp said older children are welcome, but parental discretion is advised.
Anyone wanting more information on the event can contact Kelly Camp at 706-416-6205.
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.