Meth, jail time and addiction used to define life for this Tennessee couple.
Today, Brent and Ashley Walker, of Cleveland, are clean and happy and sharing their story in hopes that someone else will find a new lease on life as they did three years ago, when they vowed they would stop using.
“There’s hope. You don’t have to live that life forever,” Brent told InsideEdition.com.
His wife added, “Your dreams can be possible. You just have to wake up.”
Brent, now 30, explained that he began his struggle with addiction at a young age — stealing cigarettes from his parents when he was 9, smoking marijuana when he was 12 and doing acid and ecstasy at only 15 years old.
When he turned 18, he and his younger brother got an apartment on their own and began dealing drugs. His brother was killed shortly after while driving under the influence.
“That’s when I tried meth for the first time and it just pushed me further into my addiction,” Brent recalled. “I didn’t know how to deal with it at the time. I was real young.”
It was also around that time he met Ashley while selling her weed, and the pair began their on-again, off-again relationship.
“It was very exhausting,” said Ashley, now 32. “It was like you’re on a roller coaster. He would have his few days that he wouldn’t be on the drugs and we would be coming down, and he would be him. When he would get back with his old friends, he would be a totally different person.”
Brent added, “I’ve treated her like complete garbage. Meth makes you do crazy stuff, overthink things, hallucinate. I would think she’s doing something even though she’s been at the house the whole day. We just fought all the time.”
Over the years, Brent racked up several felonies related to dealing and possession, and Ashley was right there for him each time he got out of prison.
“I always told him I see something different in him, and I want to have that long lasting relationship with him. I always wanted to be sober with him, have a family, have a life with him,” Ashley said. “I knew we would be able to do it. We just couldn’t get past the drugs.”
In late 2016, Brent said he suddenly decided he was ready to get clean. On New Year’s Eve in 2016, they vowed not to use again, cut off their contacts and started their new life.
“Just making small goals is how we started,” Ashley said.
Their first, she said, was to get married at their 30-day sober mark in the presence of the minister who met with Brent several times during his various prison stints.
They also hit several other milestones over the years: Brent recently earned his GED and Ashley reconnected and rebuilt her relationship with her family.
The pair also just returned from a two-week vacation to Florida, where they went to the beach, took goofy selfies and enjoyed a sunset, all part of a life they never imagined for themselves while battling addiction.
“I remember telling my friends that I will never live the sober life — it was so boring, I couldn’t see how people could live sober,” Brent said. “And now that I’ve seen it, I know 100% I would never use again.”
Brent and Ashley said they’re now working toward their next goals, which include fixing their credit score to put a down payment on a home and rebuilding and regaining custody of their children. Ashley has two kids and Brent has three, each from different relationships.
They said they now hope their story will inspire others to overcome their own addiction.
“I work in the ICU at a hospital, and I see overdoses coming in constantly, or people going through withdrawals, and it really breaks my heart knowing that I’m on this side, and knowing they can have a better life,” Ashley said.
Brent added, “It’s not an easy road. It’s a very hard road. But once you get past your year mark, it’s been like blessing after blessing, and happiness all the time.”