SURVIVORS: Recovering alcoholic now helping others break addiction's chains

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - This week's survivor started drinking alcohol at nine-years-old.

Over the years she found herself in many life or death situations but has since decided to live free. She's a Lufkin woman who now helps others with their addictions.

Carlene Smith said drinking alcohol lead her down a path she thought she could never return from.

"When I would drink, then of course, I'd want to do drugs," Smith said. "So, they were both a problem, but I wouldn't normally just go out and do drugs. I sold drugs and I was a cocaine addict. But the alcohol was the longer period of addiction for me."

Smith's addiction began with stealing from her mother's liquor cabinet to cover the pain she felt as a young child.

"I started drinking at nine, and I was 44 when I got sober," Smith said.

During that time, Smith would describe herself as a functional alcoholic.

"Meaning I went to work every day. I had a career," Smith said. "I had a 30 plus year insurance career."

In 1997, Smith's daughter approached her with concerns about her alcohol addiction. However, it wasn't until she witnessed a fatal car accident a couple years later that made Smith realize she needed to turn her life around.

"That was a moment in my life where a friend asked me to drive, and I was not only drinking but I was doing drugs, and I did not drive for him that night, and I don't know how to say other than the fact that I felt responsible," Smith said. "The accident that happened - he was killed, and another person was killed."

The woman who once couldn't stop drinking knew she had hit rock bottom.

Smith says she was a freight train out of control and thought nothing would stop her.

"But God is bigger than a freight train, and he came in my life," Smith said. And the more I depended on him, the more strength and the more mercy and grace he poured out on me to be able to come against my addictions."

After turning her life around, the former alcoholic couldn't leave her friends behind who were still caught in addiction.

With hardly any money, Smith bought this property on Foster Road in Lufkin and slept in a camper for several months until she was able to open Seasons of Hope. In 2009, the 20-acre non-profit Christian living center became a home for women trying to overcome their addictions.

"We have a six-month program here of discipleship that we just teach a girl about recovery, about how to stay clean, parenting, finances," Smith said.

The classes have helped and will continue to help women escape their past lifestyles.

If you have a survivors story to share or know of someone who has overcome a life challenge, send an email to

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