41ºF

How man, woman battling separate addiction stories met at Pontiac facility, got married

Sarah, Ryan Zeoli reveal how Grace Center of Hope changed their lives


PONTIAC, Mich. – Local 4 spoke with a woman who had her child taken away because of a DUI and a man who spent time in the Macomb County Jail due to an addiction. They shared a story of how they met while battling their addictions and ultimately got married.

Addiction is a problem that affects many different people, and the results can be devastating and deadly.

Eight-year-old Sarah said she loves reading to her mother, Sarah. It’s something she always dreamed of doing, but she didn’t have the chance for many years.

“I got a DUI with my daughter in the car,” Sarah said. “I ended up losing her, and that was one of my biggest bottoms.”

Sophia was taken away from Sarah for five years.

“I felt, like, worthless,” Sarah said.

She admitted her troubles started in her early teens.

“I had some traumatic things happen when I was younger, and I was trying to fill that hole with anything I could find, and so I started drinking and smoking and using all the next step drugs," Sarah said.

At the time, Sarah was living in Colorado. She said she heard about a place that could help her -- Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac.

“Through a prayer website and people who cared about me more than I did at that time, you know, they assisted me and pointed this place out to me and actually bought my ticket to get here,” Sarah said.

That was about the same time Ryan Zeoli decided to commit to the one-year stay at Grace Centers of Hope.

“I was in Macomb County Jail, and it was rock bottom for me,” Ryan said.

He said his problems started with a back injury and a prescription to opioid painkillers.

“It put some hooks in and I followed that down to a really dark place,” Ryan said.

Once he got out of jail, he said he needed a fresh start.

“I thought, ‘Oh yes, that would give me time to build up a foundation for a life,’” Ryan said.

That’s where Grace Centers of Hope comes in.

“You have to commit to a year, and during that year, you’re committing to working hard in therapy,” Sarah said. “Your counselors push you to not just sit around and float on through. We both had the time to heal. We both had the time to get stable."

Last year, Sarah and Ryan got married.

“I could’ve never pictured that it would get this good,” Ryan said.

Then, last summer, Sarah regained custody of her daughter. Now, they are doing something they had never imagined: getting ready for a family Christmas.

“In the depths of addiction ... you have no idea how to get here,” Sarah said. “So to be here, it’s just great. It really makes you thankful and grateful.”

Workers at Grace Centers of Hope are calling this story a Christmas miracle.

Click here for more information on what Grace Centers of Hope can provide.


About the Authors: