Former addict shares how she helps others recover

Positively Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It’s a beautiful space with lots of spiritual touches and motivational messages. There’s even a colorful spot for kids to be cared for while their parents get help for substance abuse problems.

It’s called Renew Clinic and how it got started is a story in itself. It’s located on Western Avenue, in a building that dates to the early 1900s and inside is a place that hopes to make history of its own.

The clinic is designed to provide hope and healing to people in despair, something the clinic’s Executive Director Sarah Keel knows all about that darkness.

“By the time I was 12, I had started binge drinking. I was using pills by the time I was 14. Cocaine, ecstasy, by the time I was 15 I had already been incarcerated several times and then by the time I was 18, I was an IV heroin user,” Keel said. “I remember being in the bathroom after I had just finished using and there was a picture of my mom and me as a little girl and I remember thinking to myself, ‘how did I get here? How did I get here?’ “

It was a prison ministry that saved her life.

“It was just a moment that I’ll never forget,” Keel said, crying, “and it was the first time I was truly comforted, and it wasn’t cheap. It was true and it was real.”

That spiritual awakening helped her out of the darkness, leading her to help others over the years, now, at Renew Clinic.

“Here at Renew,” IOP Clinician TK Hindman said, “I feel like we have developed a program that is clinically sound, clinically relevant and it puts Jesus right in the center of it, and that’s different than the majority of treatment modalities out there.”

This all started with Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and other local leaders asked the Knox County Church Network for help with the problem of addiction here.

“We just told them the issue,” Mayor Jacobs said, “and they started researching it and they just took action on their own. They raised the funds, they did everything necessary.” He went on to say, “I’m just thrilled with the entire thing and I know it’s going to be great and it’s something that was desperately needed here in Knox County.”

Keel said, “it shows that it’s what really works and even when someone in government recognizes that, it’s powerful. It’s powerful and it’s humbling.”

Next time you drive by the beautiful old building on Western Avenue, think about all the lives getting a new start. For more information about Renew Clinic, visit

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

WATE 6 On Your Side Twitter