CLEVELAND, Tenn. - A Tennessee couple who beat meth addiction are inspiring others, sharing a "before" photo of them in the throes of drug abuse and an "after" photo showing them after getting clean.
Brent Walker, 30, shared the photos of him and his wife, Ashley, 32, on July 26 to Facebook with the hashtag #CleanChallenge.
"This is my wife and I in active meth addiction. The first photo was taken around December 2016 the second one was taken in July of 2019," Brent wrote. "This December 31st will be 3 years we have been clean and sober and living for God. I hope that my transformation can encourage (an) addict somewhere! It is possible to recover!!"
Brent started smoking cigarettes at age 9, smoking marijuana and age 12 and selling drugs by age 15, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported.
"I remember telling my friends that I will never live the sober life — it was so boring, I couldn't see how people could live sober," he said.
At 18, Brent's brother was killed in a car accident. He tried methamphetamine shortly after his brother's death and became hooked.
Brent later met Ashley when he sold her marijuana. The two started a relationship and began using drugs together, including methamphetamine.
"It was very exhausting," Ashley, now 32, told Inside Edition. "It was like you're on a roller coaster. He would have his few days that he wouldn't be on the drugs and we would be coming down, and he would be him. When he would get back with his old friends, he would be a totally different person."
Brent agreed. "I've treated her like complete garbage," he said. "Meth makes you do crazy stuff, overthink things, hallucinate. I would think she's doing something even though she's been at the house the whole day. We just fought all the time."
Brent's drug activity led to him racking up several felony charges related to dealing and possession. In 2016, after being released from prison, Brent Walker said he decided it was finally time to get clean.
"I asked (Ashley) if she'd quit with me and she said, ‘Yes, I go wherever you go," he said.
That was December 31, 2016. The couple have been clean ever since.
On their one-month anniversary of being clean, Brent and Ashley got married.
The two joined a support group at their church for people struggling with addiction. They changed their phone numbers and cut ties with former drug contacts.
In recent years, Brent earned his GED and Ashley reconnected with her family. Both have stable jobs. Their goals for the near future are to clean up their credit scores to buy a house and to regain custody of Ashley's children from a previous relationship, Brent said.
"It's not an easy road. It's a very hard road. But once you get past your year mark, it's been like blessing after blessing, and happiness all the time," Brent said.
Brent told the News-Sentinel he posted the pictures to inspire friends and family, but never expected them to go viral. As of Friday morning, the post had more 240,000 reactions and over 140,000 shares.