A woman who is now clean of drugs has been arrested 12 times — so often that the only relative who would still talk to her was her mother.

She used meth for a decade — lying or bargaining to get the drug “just so I could feel what seemed like normal for that day.” The woman spent a year in jail.

Lisa Pein, 49, tells her story in a matter-of-fact way, with an occasional lilt in her voice — a tone that gravitates to sheer happiness. It does so because her life is drastically different now.

“It seems pretty dramatic,” Pein said.

Today, she is clean and a certified drug and addictions counselor at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Columbus. She will be one of six speakers to tell their story at a free community meeting Feb. 26 for an overview of Celebrate Recovery, the free, confidential, 12-step Christianity-based program built on relying on God’s strength and accountability to overcome a wide range of hurts, harmful habits and hang-ups. That ranges from drug addiction to overeating to codependency to gambling and more.

The gathering, called Celebrate Recovery Impact Night, is partially fueled by the opioid and heroin crisis in Bartholomew County, said Scott Hundley, one of the organizers. He is director of counseling and community at Community Downtown, an outreach of Community Church of Columbus.

“We would like to see Celebrate Recovery grow,” Hundley said.

“It involves so much more than substance abuse,” Pein said.

A 12-year anniversary celebration last year for the program attracted 71 people, but leaders say it has touched the lives of hundreds since it was implemented locally after its launch at Saddleback Church in 1990.

Group sizes in the county range from 20 to 50, organizers said.

Pein is among those changed by the program. She still attends a meeting regularly, along with Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

“We learn to live our recovery every day, that’s for sure,” Pein said. “You’re never really done (with recovery).”

Lisa Friesner also is scheduled to share part of her story. She has been the ministry leader for Celebrate Recovery at The Ridge church since 2006. She used alcohol to medicate her pain after two divorces, 10 years of infertility and three miscarriages.

She mentioned that life has been spiritually transformed, as a result of her sobriety “and working through deeper issues, such as pride, grief, resentments and fear of further loss.”

Friesner said, “It’s normal to feel nervous about going. But they should know that no one is ever required to share or speak. But people can benefit just from hearing others share their story of strength and hope. Because, really, we’re all struggling with something.

“We’re courageous enough to find the help we need. In so doing, we can find that strength and hope in our togetherness. And from that, we grow big time,” she added.

Friesner also said that none of her fears about attending Celebrate Recovery ever have materialized.

“Celebrate Recovery helps us deal with everyday life,” Friesner said. “We still sometimes struggle with things. We still sometimes can be tempted. Life can be very hard.

“But when you’ve got people around who are supporting you and helping you stay the course, then you can (stay the course),” she added.

Friesner offered a quick answer for how groups handle those who relapse: with grace and encouragement.

“We cheer them on for coming back,” she said. “Because God forbid that they don’t make it back.”

More than anything, Pein said she will use every avenue to remind people of one main message about confronting addictions, obstacles or dysfunctions.

“No matter how bad things are,” she said “you have to remember there is always hope. Always, always, always.”

About Celebrate Recovery

What Celebrate Recovery is:

  • A safe place to share
  • A refuge
  • A place of belonging
  • A place to care for others and be cared for
  • Where respect is given to each member
  • Where confidentiality is highly regarded
  • A place to learn
  • A place to demonstrate genuine love
  • A place to grow and become strong again
  • A place for progress
  • Where you can take off your mask and allow others to know who you are
  • A place for healthy challenges and healthy risks
  • A possible turning point in your life

What Celebrate Recovery is not:

  • A place for selfish control
  • Therapy
  • A place for secrets
  • A place to look for dating relationships
  • A place to rescue or be rescued by others
  • A place for perfection
  • A place to judge others
  • A quick fix

— From celebraterecovery.com

What are some of the struggles addressed?

Exactly what are some of the struggles that people bring to Celebrate Recovery? Here just some of them:

  • Drug addiction or alcoholism
  • Porn addiction
  • Overeating
  • Codependency
  • Domestic violence
  • Controlling others
  • Gambling
  • Grief
  • People pleasing
  • Perfectionism
  • Shame

The local groups

  • 9 a.m. Mondays: Community Downtown, 522 Seventh St., Columbus. Information: 812-348-6257.
  • 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays: Recovery Engagement Center, 1951 McKinley Ave., Columbus. Information: 812-348-6257.
  • 6:30 Tuesdays: Ogilville Christian Church, 7891 W. County Road 450S, Ogilville. Information: Charlotte Moss, 812-371-1147.
  • 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays: Community Church of Columbus, 3850 N. Marr Road. Information: 812-348-6257.
  • 11 a.m. (women) and 12:30 p.m. (men) Wednesdays: Community Downtown, 522 Seventh St., Columbus. Information: 812-348-6257.
  • 10:30 a.m. Thursdays: Recovery Engagement Center, 1951 McKinley Ave., Columbus. Information: 812-348-6257.
  • 6:30 p.m. Thursdays: The Ridge, 2800 Bonnell Road, Columbus. Includes a group for veterans called Welcome Home (will cover topics ranging from depression to marital issues to no longer being part of a team). Information: Lisa Friesner, 812-375-0028.
  • 11 a.m. Friday: Community Downtown, 522 Seventh St., Columbus. Information: 812-348-6257.
  • 6 p.m. Fridays: St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 719 5th St., Columbus. Information: Chris Sparks 812-344-1476.

Celebrate Recovery Impact Night

What: Meeting that will include an overview of what the free program is, six speakers sharing their stories of struggle and hope facing various habits and hang-ups, and a panel discussion.

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 26.

Where: Lecture hall of the Columbus Learning Center, 4555 Central Ave.

Admission: Free.

Information: Community Downtown at 812-348-6257.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.