EVEN though his friends died because of their drug addictions, Max Riley refused to give up his habit. Even though it caused
his wife to face a lengthy drug trial in Bermuda in 1989, he loved cocaine more then he loved her. But finally, he had had
enough. He turned his life over to God and his 25-year addiction was gone in an instant.
Now Mr. Riley is the chief executive officer of the non-profit Fellowship Deliverance Ministries, located just outside
of Atlanta, Georgia. There, he and his wife Rebecca, help men and their families beat the drug habit.
It's a remarkable turnaround for a man that once made sure his drug purchases came first and family needs came second.
Mr. Riley's drug problems started in 1969 when he began smoking marijuana.
"As a child I was sort of interested in drugs. I didn't realize how serious it was, but I just got deeper and deeper involved.
That's why I urge the young people not to get interested in drugs and to stay as far away as possible because it's a short
trip to Hell."
After five years of smoking weed, he no longer got as great a high from it and started doing cocaine. Mr. Riley saw friends
die from their drug addictions but, "It didn't make a whole lot of difference because the drug is so powerful. The thing is,
you have to ask yourself, 'Do you want to live or die?'"
There were times he tried to quit, only to relapse into his habit. The addiction strained his marriage to the limit.
"One day I woke up and realized I was hooked on this drug and tried to figure out a way to kick it, but I just couldn't
do it on my own strength.
"It became my priority over my bills, over my family and over everything else. I did manage to pay my bills, but I had
to get my drugs first and used whatever was left over to take care of my business.
"It even drove a wedge between my family. It will separate you from your family because the things that you're doing do
not involve them."
The worst came in 1989 when Mrs. Riley was put on trial in Bermuda for drug offences that were a result of Mr. Riley's
addiction. She was cleared of all charges, but with Mr. Riley living in the U.S. and advised by lawyers not to come back to
the island, the two-year trial became a lengthy separation for the couple.
Even after the trial, Mr. Riley continued to do drugs, but his wife had had enough. She prayed to God and said she would
stick by her husband for two more years. However, if he still had a drug problem at that point, she was going to pack her
bags and leave him.
"There comes a point in your life when you have had enough and that you want to come out of this addiction, but you can't
do it on your own. You have to rely on God because he is the only one that can bring you through it.
"I tried to quit many, many times, but I tried on my own. Finally, when I hit rock bottom, I cried out to God and he heard
my prayer and honoured it to help get me off drugs. It took me a long time to realize it because I thought I enjoyed it, but
it was stripping me of my pride and stripping me of my dignity. After all my troubles, when I turned to God, it was like an
instant healing. I gave it to God and He took it, never for it to come back again."
Mr. Riley said God gave him a mission to help others beat their drug addiction and that's why he started Fellowship Deliverance
Ministries. The group opened a second facility last Friday and now has 56 beds to minister to drug addicts.
Mr. Riley said: "It's an organization to help men regain control of their lives and remain free of substance abuse. It
is also provides a place of refuge for the homeless and a place of safety for the despondent.
"Men come to us for aid during times of crises. We provide help for their hurt through loving fellowship, aid for their
physical needs for food, shelter and employment and guidance for the repair of their lives through ministering the word of
"I had a 25-year drug addiction and God delivered me from it. Because of my sobriety today, God has laid it upon my heart
to help others. He gave me the vision of how to do it and I made a vow to help those people who other people don't think will
amount to anything."
Mr. Riley said his struggle with drug addiction has given him special insight as to what a person has to deal with when
they are under its influence.
"How can you minister to a drug addict if you don't know his deep, dark secrets and where he comes from and what type of
environment that he really, really lives in? I've been there and I've mastered it having been out there on the streets. I
know there's a connection between me and the guys that are out there on the street. It makes a difference when you've been
Mrs. Riley ministers to the families of drug addicts. She advises women not to stay with their husbands, especially the
"When he got in the mood to do drugs, I had to get in the mood to suffer," she said. "I had to wonder when he was going
to come home. So a mood would come over me the same time he went into a mood. He could have some big mood swings."