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MAKING A MARK: Portsmouth minister pens his road to recovery

Rev. Jessie Warren battled abuse and addiction for years. In his book, Coming Clean, he shares the details of his journey and spreads a message of hope.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Reverend Jessie Warren said he wrote his book, Coming Clean, for his family.

"I got five daughters and 20 grandchildren and two great grands. And I wanted to introduce myself to them," he said. "[Be]cause they know of me, but they don't know me. The whole me."

Rev. Warren said the story details his real-life abuse and drug addiction.

"If you notice [on] the book [cover], the word 'clean' is coming from the nose... I snorted heroin for 30 years," Warren said.

 "I suffered a lot of abuse as a child... Low self-esteem, lack of love... When I did heroin, it didn't matter. Nothing mattered but heroin. Heroin [kind of] took over."

But that was nearly 25 years ago.

"I stopped August the 20th, 1998. On a Thursday. 9 o'clock that morning," he said.

 "I had a whole bunch of reasons to get high, and I blamed everybody else. But in order to get better, I had to sit down and swallow that pill that it was all my fault."

Rev. Warren said he hopes his book inspires others to do the same.

"I didn't [want to] write anymore. It hurt, I was expressing that pain. But in order to grow, I had to go there," he said. 

 "Addiction is not the problem. Until you face the issues, addiction [will] always be there."

Today, Rev. Warren has dedicated his life to helping others get clean, which he says helps him, too.

"I'm hoping that I'm encouraging people, I'm hoping that I motivate people, inspiring them, maybe being an example to them," Warren said. 

"But make no mistake about it, I'm doing this because I want to stay clean."

Reverend Marvin Leathers of Faith Evangelical Church in Portsmouth is Rev. Warren's pastor, and he witnessed his journey to recovery.

"It's a relentless pursuit. It's something that if you want to tire of it, you could that easily," Leather explained. 

"But he has allowed himself to just commit himself to the incessant pursuit of just helping people that are addicted."

While the journey isn't easy, Rev. Warren said his family makes it all worth it.

"I was an abandoned child," Warren said.

 "I'm looking at great grands, daughters, son-in-laws... I'm the most blessed man walking God's earth."

You can find Coming Clean at some local bookstores and Walmart locations. The book is also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble's website, Apple Books and Google Play Books.

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