Former heroin addict now leading worship at Roanoke church

Opioid Nation: The Road to Recovery

By Lindsey Ward - Anchor

ROANOKE, Va. - A former heroin addict now leads worship at a church in the same neighborhood where she used to buy drugs.

Amanda Bocchi had a traumatic childhood and a boyfriend who introduced her to painkillers to help her cope with the trauma.

"I tried to fill that hole with everything," Bocchi said. "Once I discovered opiates, it immediately took all the anger away, all of the pain, all of the emotional trauma that I experienced on a daily basis."

Eventually, she started using street drugs.

"I was shooting up on a daily basis, multiple times a day," Bocchi admitted. "I had sold and pawned every instrument that I've owned. I've stolen from family members. I've lied and manipulated to serve my habit."

Bocchi said that drugs were the solution to her problems, not the problem themselves.

She started her recovery from addiction about 18 months ago with Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous. In the 12-step program, she came face to face with her demons and believes she was finally healed. 

"I didn't have a higher power. I didn't have a relationship with anything greater than myself," Bocchi said. "My substance was the thing that was greater than me."

The road to recovery led her down an unexpected path to a long conversation with Huntington Court United Methodist Church pastor Jeff Wilson.

Bocchi's story of restoration is exactly why Wilson reached out to her for the worship leader position.

"She's living, breathing, and singing proof that they can step out of the darkness and into the light," Wilson said.

As part of the church's new effort to reach those struggling with issues like addiction, Bocchi leads worship on Thursday nights when she sings of finding the light.

"We just want to give a safe place for people to come and grow faith," Wilson shared.

Several of Huntington Court's services are meant to reach people with similar stories to Bocchi's.

"My hope is that people will be able to see what I'm doing and hear my story and testimony and find some hope for themselves," Bocchi said.

If you or someone you know is addicted to opioids, visit wsls.com/addiction for a number of resources.

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