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From dark to light
Young man No Longer Bound to addiction
Ryan No Longer Bound 5 es
Ryan Bray, left, talks with co-worker Scott Althauser and Althauser’s wife, Allison, at the Dark 2 Light printshop. - photo by Emily Saunders

No Longer Bound is holding an open house from noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 10. The event will feature free food, live music and 15 percent discount on printing services.

Contact: (678) 679-1176 or

Ryan Bray grew up in a loving Christian home and was athletic, playing sports like football and basketball in high school.

Soft spoken and articulate, the 23-year-old hardly looks the type to have been addicted to drugs or in trouble with the law.

Yet, that’s exactly what happened to Bray, who’s living proof that addiction has no boundaries and can affect people everywhere, from affluent suburbs to picturesque countryside.

“I didn’t care about anybody but the drug,” he said of his methamphetamine addiction.

Organizations such as Forsyth County’s No Longer Bound understand that hold, as well as the perils of addiction and the toll it can take on people and their families.

A 10-month, faith-based regeneration program in south Forsyth, No Longer Bound helps men like Bray uncover their inner pain, which in turn leads them to recovery.

“It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life,” Bray said of the program. “But I could see something in the guys that worked there, they had such happiness and peace, things I had never really known and wanted for my life.”

And now that he’s graduated, Bray is staying on in the group’s servant leader training program for an additional 10 months.

Success stories such as Bray’s are one of the reasons assistant director Stephen Belcher, himself a No Longer Bound graduate, remains so passionate about his job.

“The judge could not believe he was looking at the same person,” recalled Belcher of Bray’s court appearance after graduation. “It was great to see how far Ryan had come.”

Like Bray, Belcher said he is proof drug addiction can occur in even the most unlikely of families.

He first came to No Longer Bound in 2005. The physical and emotional agony of withdrawal from painkillers kept him awake for 22 days straight, but he stuck with the program.

And after three years on staff, Belcher said he feels he has found his calling. His wife and children live with him on site.

“Because all of our staff have gone through the program, we can all relate to the struggles these men are experiencing,” he said.

Founder Mike Harden brought No Longer Bound to the area in 1990.

There are currently 42 men in the first phase of the program. In addition, Bray and 10 other men are in the servant leader training phase.

The organization operates a thrift store, greenhouse, food ministry and “cars for recovery” program, where the men work and which help fund the operation.

Bray plans to continue his work for Dark 2 Light, the organization’s print and graphic design shop, and begin taking college classes.

That’s a long way from the steep descent he began in high school.

“I partied some on the weekends, but it was not until I tried methamphetamine that things began to spiral out of control,” Bray recalled. “My friend gave me some and I had never had that kind of a high before. It made me feel more confident and more focused and energetic.”

He said he thought he could handle the drug. All too soon, however, it infiltrated every area of his life.

“By the time I was a senior, I was constantly using, always chasing that high,” he said. “It is difficult to explain, but the drug and the high is all you think about.”

Meth also took its toll on the former athlete’s physical appearance.

“In only a few months, I dropped down to 100 pounds and my skin looked terrible. You go days and days without sleeping.”

Bray said his parents tried to help him, as did school counselors, teachers and coaches. But he refused.

As time moved on, he was “in and out of jail so many times.”

He reached his lowest point when awaiting sentencing to up to 15 years in jail. He said he cried in his cell out to God one night, promising to change if he could have one more chance.

A judge, who was familiar with No Longer Bound, obliged, issuing Bray an ultimatum — complete the 10-month program and report back.

He did and, looking and feeling healthy, he faced the judge as a young man facing a bright future.