James Cooper has trouble not tearing up when he talks about his book.
The book, which is nearing publication, chronicles his harrowing journey through drug addiction and his recent recovery. While it is filled with painful lows, it has a happy ending, and there is one specific message he is hoping to convey.
“A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step,” Cooper, or simply “Coop” to his friends, said.
Cooper’s journey toward recovery began about 16 months ago when he hit rock bottom and found himself on the front steps of the Haywood Pathways Center. Since then, a life — once in ruin — has flourished.
The book follows Cooper’s life chronologically, from his birth back in 1963, through the perils of addiction and up to his victorious recovery.
“It goes step-by-step through my childhood,” he said, adding that he hopes the book captures his rebellious side. “I was brought up in a loving family, but I was totally out of control.”
Cooper began writing the book last summer. Although he said he had a rough draft ready in one day, he knew it needed some work. That’s when he reached out to Liberty Crouch, who he knows through The New Covenant Church, their mutual place of worship.
After reading Crouch’s autobiography, which chronicles parts of her journey through recovery, he knew she would be the perfect person to help him pen his book.
“I said, ‘you go and write down everything you want in your book and we’ll talk about it,’” Crouch said. “He came to me about a week later with a yellow notepad filled front and back … He was serious about it.”
Crouch said once they had a workable draft, she had him come over so she could go over it with him.
“When he came over, and I read it to him, he just wept,” she said.
Prior to being arrested and getting his life turned around, Cooper had become addicted to methamphetamine. He said he began using heavily following the death of his father in 2013. From there, things moved fast up to the arrest that turned things around.
Because he was known to authorities and jailers as someone who would cause trouble, he automatically went to the isolation cell.
“It gives you time to think,” he said.
Following his brief stint in jail, Cooper was released and placed on one year probation. Although he fell briefly back into using meth again, it wasn’t long before he found himself with nothing.
“The last time I used was the night before going to the Pathways Center,” he said. “I was cold and there was nowhere to go. I was at the end of my road.”