The newly released HBO documentary, Meth Storm, focuses on meth addiction in rural Arkansas, and the film includes a look at a year-long faith-based rehabilitation center based out of Perry County with ties to the WhiteRiverNow.com region.
The center, Renewal Ranch, was started about five years ago when the Conway area saw meth addiction in the area growing every year and felt a rehabilitation program was needed that was faith-based.
Two Baptist churches in Conway were involved in the formation along with concerned citizens including Danica Critcher Smith, the married daughter of Vickie and Jack Critcher. Jack Critcher is the former state legislator from the Batesville area. When John 3:16, the long-term substance abuse rehabilitation program located at Charlotte, Ark. and the work it does was brought up in discussions, Danica told the group her mother had been involved in the work at John 3:16 before the Critchers moved to the Conway area. Danica’s mom, Vickie, was then invited to a meeting of the group and later became a member of its board of directors. Renewal Ranch was eventually formed with James Loy as its executive director.
Loy was one of the first graduates of John 3:16, He recently told WRDE’s Gary Bridgman that he would be forever grateful to Beverly and Brian Tuggle, founders of John 3:16, for their love and care that shepherded him through the program to show there is an alternative to meth.
Loy said the filming crew of the HBO documentary came to Renewal Ranch and followed them around through all of the Ranch’s activities for two months, filming all the time. Loy said the final version of the documentary contained about three minutes of their visit to Renewal Ranch.
Loy did say he thought the film was good and did point out the cycle of addiction and how it can destroy a life. He went on to say the film really didn’t offer any hope, and people do need to know that there is an alternative to being addicted to meth, and that men and women are “walking in victory today, and leading productive lives.”