Cledus T. Judd will perform at The Grand Theatre in Cartersville March 19.
Posted Friday, March 4, 2022 3:23 pm at The Daily Tribune News
BY MARIE NESMITH
A self-described recovering addict, Cledus T. Judd is striving to bring hope to those still battling substance abuse. The former Bartow resident, who gained celebrity status for his comical nature and entertaining tunes, is now on a mission to help struggling individuals reach their full potential.
“I want to be able to touch lives,” said Judd, who was known to his childhood friends as Barry Poole. “I can do that through comedy and it will be funny. But I always told the good Lord, if I ever got a chance to do this again that I would take 20/30 minutes out of my show and share my journey and my testimony.
“Because there may be somebody else out there that wants to be more than what they are, and they don’t think they can be because of the addiction. I hope if they hear my story that they’ll go home and go, ‘Damn, maybe, just maybe, I might can do it too.’”
Now living in Ohio, the multi-platinum selling artist is excited to return to his hometown and perform in “This Judd’s for You” at The Grand Theater in Cartersville March 19. Judd will “bring the funny” and share his journey during his 7:30 p.m. presentation, which will help raise funds for Recovery Bartow.
“Even though I’m from there, a lot of people other than my close-knit family and friends don’t know that I was homeless at one time,” Judd said. “They don’t know that I slept on an air mattress for months till I got money, that I almost lost my fingers to frostbite because I didn’t have heat in my car, that I rode a Greyhound bus back and forth from Nashville to Georgia and I was so embarrassed, I wouldn’t even see any of my friends. So I want them to hear the story not out of arrogance but out of just hope.
“Somebody asked me yesterday, ‘If you had to do it over again, would you have done things differently when it came to the drug abuse?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely not,’” he said, adding “if it means that I had to take one for the team in order to share my story and my shortcomings and my addiction to save somebody else’s life and give them hope, then yes, I’d relive it all over again.”
Considering himself fortunate, the country music parody entertainer has lived a drug-free life for nearly 20 years. “I’ve been clean the day my daughter was born,” he said.
“I’ve never done it again. She’ll be 18 this year on Sept. 11. I was one of the lucky ones. The love for my child was stronger than my love for the addiction. But that’s not always the case with addicts. Sometimes the addiction takes the place of a loved one, a family member, a child, possessions.
“Addiction is brutal. Unless you’ve been addicted, you don’t understand, and we understand that. But if you are one, like I am one, then I can relate to those people.”
For Judd, what seemed like a fun experience quickly took hold of his life. He tried crystal meth and cocaine at the age of 23 and became addicted upon his “first line.”
“I thought at the time I had found what I was looking for — the burst of energy, the clarity,” Judd said. “You think you’re getting stuff done when you’re not getting anything done.”
Over the years, his addiction impacted every corner of his life. Not even a brush with death made him re-evaluate his dangerous lifestyle.
“The one thing I love to do more than anything is play golf, and I could not even go to the golf course without finding the dealer first,” Judd said. “I had to have the drugs with me and kept them with me about all the time. I’d try to quit, like everybody else — quit, then start back again and quit.
“I actually had heart surgery in 1998 and the doctor said it’s just a miracle you’re still alive. Well, that wasn’t enough to scare me. I continued to use, and used all the way up till Sept. 11, 2004, where I never used again.”
As Judd noted, he stopped using immediately after his daughter, Caitlyn, was born. In the hospital, Judd had about $1,000 in one of his pockets and around $1,500 worth of cocaine in the other. When he went to the bathroom to snort a line of cocaine, he looked up and saw “the ugliest person” staring back in the mirror.
“I remember saying to myself, ‘If you can do what you’re about to do after just helping give birth to somebody that’s going to depend on you the rest of your life; the thing that you’ve always wanted was a child; and you’re going to sit in this cold, dark bathroom and snort cocaine — then you don’t deserve a child.’
“I flushed the cocaine down the toilet. I took the quarter that I had used to use the cocaine, and I put it in my wallet where it’s still at today. I’ve never done it since, by the grace of God.”
Tickets for “This Judd’s for You: Cledus T. Judd” are $25 and can be purchased in advance at https://thegrandtheatre.org. A portion of the event’s proceeds will support Recovery Bartow, which received its nonprofit designation around three years ago.
“I was both surprised and thankful that a hometown celebrity like Mr. Judd is so vocal regarding his addiction and recovery,” said Barbara Hoffman, executive director of Recovery Bartow. “People willing to share their recovery stories are crucial to dismantling the stigma and myths surrounding not only the hope and reality of recovery, but who has and is struggling with a substance use disorder. The media has painted a very misguided picture of the ‘who,’ leading to false and dehumanizing stereotypes that prevent our loved ones from seeking treatment.”
With Recovery Bartow’s primary goal being awareness and education, Hoffman emphasized the importance of shining a light on this pressing issue.
“Bartow citizens need to know the magnitude of the drug crisis in our community so that we can mount a unified defense against it that will save lives, and includes developing community-level resources that individuals need to initiate and maintain long-term recovery. It will take a village, as the saying goes, willing to commit their time and energy, but also money. Mr. Judd gets this.
“Fifty-six percent of our budget is through private, corporate and faith-based donations, and 44% through our fundraising efforts, primarily our Run for Recovery 5K and fireworks stand on July 4 in the Kroger parking lot.”
Hoffman underscored the impact drugs are having on Bartow, noting the county recorded 41 fatal overdoses last year from January through November.
“The county lost 36 of its citizens in 2020,” Hoffman said. “We remain No. 6 for all overdoses out of Georgia’s 159 counties. This is no small problem that is going to go away anytime soon, because its root is both global and supernaturally evil.
“Recovery Bartow was established as a nonprofit in August 2019, but the work began in January of that year. Our mission includes prevention and early intervention in our youth and young adults, establishing and/or supporting increased recovery resources within Bartow, and utilizing the training, experience and resources of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse and their RCO (Recovery Community Organization) network, to which we belong, build a team of passionate, professional peer recovery coaches who can support those who reach out to us for help,” she said adding “free, confidential, one-on-one recovery coaching” is offered at the nonprofit’s RCO, called The Arena, inside Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cartersville.
Further details about Judd’s upcoming show can be obtained by calling The Grand Theatre at 770-386-7343.
“They want to hear “I Love NASCAR’ and ‘Every Light in the House is Blown’ and I’ll sing those,” Judd said, “but at the end of the day, I’ll not only sing them, I’ll tell them how the song came about, tell them how good it did or how bad it did, and what started the journey.
“But … my life from this point forward or for the last few years is really dedicated in using that music to get me in the door. And then once I’m in the door, being able to share my testimony in order to give somebody a little bit of hope as they gander along throughout life.”
Article from: The Daily Tribune News