On the eve of America’s 246th birthday, Chuck E. Corsette celebrated a personally significant occasion: his fifth anniversary of sobriety. The Southern California native credits God’s work through Adult & Teen Challenge for taking him out of a world of heroin addiction that nearly destroyed him.
Raised in Pentecostal churches, Corsette accepted Jesus as his Savior in elementary school. As a teen, though, Corsette drank alcohol for the first time at a party. Struggling with insecurity, he liked the way he thought alcohol enabled him to talk with girls and make his friends laugh.
His drinking got so heavy he skipped baseball season his senior year of high school to party. That cost him a possible pro career; some teammates wound up being drafted by major league clubs.
Once out of school, Corsette went to work in restaurants, first as a server and then as a bartender. While a waiter, female bartenders often slipped him free drinks.
“My 20s were characterized by drinking, cocaine, and meth use — but mainly just being an alcoholic,” says Corsette, 41. “When I turned 30, someone brought in black tar heroin where I bartended.”
He began by smoking it, but within a couple of years turned to injecting the drug. At the bottom of his descent, he wound up living in a tent. After the tent disintegrated, he woke up one night to find three men stomping on him and stealing the last of his meager possessions.
He finally accepted his parents’ suggestion that he come to North Carolina —where they had moved in 2015 to be closer to family — and enter the Adult & Teen Challenge Sandhills Induction Center.
Corsette did so, despite an earlier vow to never go to a faith-based rehab program.
“I was getting into so much legal trouble and God was closing all the other doors,” Corsette remembers. Before he entered Adult & Teen Challenge, his father put him up in a hotel room for a few days so Chuck could detox from heroin.
Once he entered Sandhills and saw the camaraderie of men praying for each other and worshipping God, Corsette realized he needed to quit running and embrace the Christian faith.
“I got down on my knees at the altar and cried like a baby,” Corsette recalls. I said, Lord, I can’t do this anymore. I’m going to end up dead. I submit my life to You.”
At the end of 2017, Corsette made the transition to the ministry’s flagship location, the Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge (PAATC) in Rehrersburg.
In 2019, he enrolled in online courses at Clarks Summit University in northeastern Pennsylvania. Last December, Corsette earned his bachelor’s degree in biblical counseling and is now pursuing a master’s at CSU.
After two years with the PAATC patient advocacy team, in May Corsette secured a promotion to counselor in the facility’s long-term program.
Jon D. Thuer, 38, the facility’s ministry coordinator for six years, says Corsette knows God has called him to help others struggling with the same addictions that once ruled his life.
“He has a heart for the brokenhearted,” Thuer says. “The men appreciate him. They can sense he is genuine. They know he’s not just there for the job.”
Corsette oversees four hourlong group sessions a day and meets with each client (the number varies from eight to 15) once a week.
Fifty students graduated from the facility’s long-term program in the past year, with 67 people baptized at its “recovery festival” one weekend in July. A 2019 study showed that 78% of graduates nationwide remain sober after completing the program.
“Praise God He pulled me out when He did,” Corsette says of his miraculous recovery. “Sobriety is just a byproduct of a personal relationship with Christ.”
PHOTO: Church Corsette first from left.