Choosing a New Life
story by Caitie McMekin
At one point in Matt Haney's life, all he had was himself, his car, and enough money to feed his dog chicken nuggets from the dollar menu. Since recovering from a methamphetamine addiction in 2007, Matt has a lot more in his life — a wife, four children, and a job in the family business.
Faced with an unavoidable choice between jail and a rehabilitation program, Matt's family fought for him to go to rehab. He checked into Lifeline Ministries, an independent faith-based center in Paducah.
"If I had gone to jail, I might not have changed," he says. He doesn't take his new life lightly. "Calling addiction a disease is a severe disservice for diseases—addiction is a decision. People use the term disease as a crutch. Every morning I wake up and say 'I'm not gonna get high.'"
And after he's made the choice for another day, he drinks a cup of coffee and helps his wife, Ashley, get their daughters ready while their 16-month-old son sleeps in. Then he heads across the driveway to work. He and his father, Mike Haney, run Hillbilly Stills—a maker of distillery equipment. Their stills draw hobbyists and commercial distillers from around the world.
But more than restoring Matt to his family, his recovery revived his faith. A tattoo on his back depicts a cross with a demon to the left and praying hands to the right illustrates the journey he's made over the nearly 10 years since he left behind one life for another.
"You can change no matter who you are or what you are, your past doesn't have to define you," he says.