William Cope Moyers found religion inside an Atlanta crack house with two sheriff's deputies by his side.

"I went out to die," he said about his decision to leave his wife and children that day in 1994 in search of drugs. "I had broken the law of averages."

Moyers, a former CNN reporter, Tuesday shared his story of faith and recovery with 227 fellow addicts and inmates locked up at Henrico Regional Jail East in New Kent County.

"My story is your story," the clean-cut Moyers, 47, told the men and women seated before him in their jail-issued blue shirts.

"We're gonna make it," he told them. "We're the lucky ones."

The day his father sent a search party into that crack house to save him, he walked past eight other addicts who weren't so lucky. Some of them died, he said.

"I was delivered," he added.

Moyers is the son of acclaimed PBS journalist Bill Moyers. Recently, William Moyers wrote "Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption," a book in which he talks about growing up in his father's shadow, as well as his love affair with drugs and his bumpy road to treatment and long-term recovery.

A father of three, he is now a vice president of Hazelden, a national nonprofit group founded in 1949 that helps people struggling with addiction. He tours the country sharing his story.

William Moyers traveled to the Richmond area at the urging of Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade and John Shinholser, president and co-founder of The McShin Foundation, a recovery program that operates out of the basement of Hatcher Memorial Baptist Church in Henrico.

His appearance hit home for many in the jail's Recovery In a Secure Environment program, which allows inmates to serve their time while receiving group therapy for their addictions.

"I go home (Wednesday)," said RISE participant David Green, 35, of Heathsville, who is finishing his sentence for a conviction of obstruction of justice. "This is exactly what I needed."

While the topic might have been heavy, there were light moments during Moyers' speech. At one point, he asked how much time he had left with the group.

"Years," the sheriff responded. Everybody laughed.

Wade, who has a master's degree in alcohol and drug rehabilitation, created the jail recovery program in 2000. It started with 20 members and has grown to 290 participants, he said.

"There are two kinds of people in jail - those that are on drugs, and those that need to be on them," he said.

Moyers said he did not want to share every detail of his drugging days because nearly everyone in the room knows what those days are like. But he did talk about what he believes drove him to drugs.

"I had a hole in my soul," he said.

It's a hole, he said, that never goes away.

"I never drank to enjoy myself more," he said. "I drank to live in my own skin."

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Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, www.timesdispatch.com

Published on editorandpublisher.com February 21, 2007

Photo from williammoyers.com