Dovie Smith was 14 when she smoked her first marijuana joint. It was the first in a series of choices that sent her life spiraling out of control. After a dramatic turnaround, Smith is eager to share how she became drug free.
Dovie Smith was 14 when she smoked her first marijuana joint. It was the first in a series of choices that sent her life spiraling out of control.
At first, Smith, of Massillon, turned to drugs to numb the pain of mental and physical abuse. Later, she became addicted to crack cocaine in search of that ever elusive high.
After a dramatic turnaround, Smith is eager to share how she became drug free.
“You think drugs make things better, but they really don’t. I think drugs make you not care. You don’t feel nothing and you don’t care,” Smith said.
Born legally blind, Smith was ridiculed for her disability and the color of her skin.
“I’m from an African-American family, but my skin color is white (due to albinism). I had to go through a lot of challenges. ... People are so cruel. They judge you based on your appearance,” said Smith, who was raised in inner-city Cleveland.
The barrage of insults took their toll on Smith’s self-esteem. Smith believed the lies that she would never accomplish her dreams. To escape, Smith turned to drugs, which were easily accessible in her neighborhood.
“When you feel worthless, you’re not going to do anything to accomplish your dreams and goals,” she said.
Smith experimented with drugs in her teenage years but became an addict as she progressed into her 20s.
A year after graduating from high school, Smith married her husband, Mike. The drug abuse continued even after the couple started a family and eventually had three daughters, Cherry, Renee and Casandra.
“He had no education and I had no self-esteem. We could not provide a great life for our girls. He was making $4 an hour,” she said.
“If selling drugs would help our kids, then that’s what we did.”
Throughout the early years of their marriage, Mike was an alcoholic. Both were abusing and selling drugs and lived in constant fear of the authorities.
The couple’s chaotic lifestyle nearly cost them their home and children.
The couple took the first step toward recovery by leaving their crime-infested neighborhood for Massillon in 1993.
“I came to a place in my life where we said this isn’t how we wanted our kids to grow up,” Smith said. “I wanted something new and safety for my girls. I wanted to give them a fresh start.”
Though her husband insisted on drinking, Dovie said she saw his heart and believed “he was worth fighting for.” Both decided that “enough was enough” and that they needed to move on. The decision to leave behind their previous lifestyle wasn’t easy, however.
“We got it somewhat together but we were still using a little bit here and there,” Dovie said.
The path to recovery took another positive turn when the family was introduced to Rev. Bernard Lawson, pastor of Word of Liberty Christian Church in Massillon. At first, Dovie said she and her husband resisted Lawson’s invitation to attend church.
“He was in the neighborhood evangelizing and he came to our home one day and asked to speak with me and he asked to pray with us,” Dovie said.
On several occasions, the Smiths ran into Lawson as they traveled throughout the city.
“It was like God put him in my path. Every time I saw him, he remembered my name,” Dovie said. “He made sure he stayed in contact with me.”
Mike said Lawson never gave up on them.
Dovie said she wrote a letter to Lawson in 1999, explaining she was in dire financial straits after Mike’s arrest on drunken driving charges.
“I didn’t know where to turn. He wrote me back and said to hold on,” Dovie said.
The couple later attended a New Year’s Eve service at Word of Liberty that deeply impacted their lives. At the end of the service, Dovie said she and her husband surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.
“He preached one of the most profound messages I have ever heard. We gave our lives to the Lord and we have had no more desire for alcohol or drugs anymore,” Dovie said.
Mike said the change he experienced was just as profound.
“God took away the taste of alcohol and cigarettes. It’s like I had never tasted them in my life,” he said.
Smith, who managed to hide her drug addiction from her parents for years, also credits the prayers of her church-going mother.
“I could not have made it without her prayers,” she said.
While she has many regrets, Dovie said she and her husband always tried to provide the best for their children.
“I loved those kids. ... I wanted them to have a chance.”
Now a student at Stark State College of Technology, Dovie is considering a career as an occupational therapist or an X-ray technician. She also is seeking to encourage and mentor others who have experienced similar struggles.
“The main thing I would convey is don’t make excuses,” she said. “Drugs don’t help you. They hurt you. It’s a way out. You have to make up your mind that you are done with drugs.”
Dovie recently published a book, “From a Mess to a Miracle,” in hopes of helping others. She said both her mother and her pastor urged her to put pen to paper.
For more information on "From a Mess to a Miracle," visit www.publishamerica.net or call 1-301-695-1707.