Drug addiction is a real problem in society today, and opioid abuse is at an all time high, but there is a solution.

Morehouse Women's Challenge Counselor and Director Dr. Toni Edwards said the program the women follow is more successful than a 12-step program because it is centered around a relationship with Jesus Christ.

"There is a transformation that occurs by having a relationship with God," Edwards said.

Currently the center houses 20 women, but can occupy 26. Edwards said the drug and alcohol addiction center was started the spring after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2006. Bonita Road Assembly of God was helping with evacuations and had gathered clothing, furniture and other items and needed a place to store them after the evacuations were through. Pastor Jim Brent started the program and modeled it after a popular addiction program called Teen Challenge.

"Eventually everything was moved to what is now our thrift store," she said. "And that is how the thrift store was started."

MWC runs a thrift store called the Morehouse Challenge Thrift Store that is operated by the women in the program.

"We use the thrift store to pay the bills here," she said. "The women who come here don't have to pay to get in."

Edwards said the women have Bible classes in the mornings and work at the store in the evenings, teaching them Biblical principals and life applications.

Edwards said all of the 13 women on staff have gone though the program and graduated.

Staff member Amber Many from Haynesville, came to MWC on April 22, 2011 and graduated a year later.

"My life was a wreck," Many said. "I was a 20-year opiate and meth addict, and on pills for years. The meth addiction got bad and cost me a lot."

Many said she was raised in addiction and she did not want to put her kids through what she had gone through all her life.

"I got busted with a lot of drugs," she said. "I first went to another 12-step program and got kicked out after a week. God interjected Himself into my life in the darkness. I was caught up in loss and pain."

Many said she lost the desire to do drugs and even smoke cigarettes the moment she walked through the doors.

"The desire was gone," she said. "God instantly took it from me. This place and structure was not rehab. What I found here was a new life. I was born again. The old me is gone. Sometimes I sit back and I am amazed at my level of freedom."

The women at MWC are instructed a structured program that includes prayer, Bible study and worship.

"God taught me to forgive," Many said. "Thinking patterns had me in bondage. I couldn't fix or save myself. God really does speak to me. He leads me, provides for me and He is always good."

Many said the program includes intensive character development that she needed to have victory over her addiction problems.

Another staff member, Brittiny Boullion from Crowley, said she was reluctant to come in the beginning, but is thankful that she did.

"Both of my parents were abusive and drug addicts," Boullion said. "I was raised by my grandmother, but acted out and rebelled because I never felt loved by my parents. In 2009, my grandmother passed away and I became homeless. I had no one to turn to and then I got pregnant. I stayed sober for a little while, but was still empty inside."

Boullion said she got on meth in 2014 and meth took all she had left.

"I cried to God and hit my knees and asked him to save me," she said. "I went to jail and then came here. I did not want to stay. I fought for eight months. I had trust issues, but God showed me just how much He loved me."

Since then Boullion has graduated in November of 2015 and is part of the staff at MWC.

"I started over in life," she said. "The people here have shown me the love and support that I needed. I am reminded every day how blessed I am. I found my security in God."

For more information on Morehouse Women's Challenge, call Toni Edwards at 366-2022.