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A Family’s Brave Journey through Addiction and Recovery

Pastor Rob Koke and his family were shaken when they received a call in the summer of 2009. His father’s sailboat washed ashore but he wasn’t on it. The Coast Guard found his body later and the Kokes jumped on a plane to Florida for the funeral. To this day, they don’t know exactly what happened but can only guess that maybe he had a heart attack and fell overboard. The night after returning to their hometown of Austin, their 17-year-old son Caleb was driving home from a friend’s house when he fell asleep at the wheel of his car and was killed. He was only a mile away from home. The Koke’s were devastated! Danielle considered Caleb to be her best friend, not just her brother. Not understanding how to deal with the pain, she tried to find comfort in boys, alcohol, and drugs. She explains, “I was only fourteen when we lost him. Being fourteen, I had learned few, if any, coping skills… Losing my brother was the hardest thing I had ever been through, far worse than the pain of my addiction. Yet, I would never claim that losing Caleb caused my addiction… I believe I was born with an addictive gene, a predisposition. However, I do think his death contributed to my desperate need for something to take away the pain.”

One night while drunk Danielle was driving home and crashed her car. She was so out of it that she didn’t even remember doing it until she saw the damage to her vehicle the next day. Danielle lied to her parents and told them she was texting while driving and they had no reason not to believe her. While attending college, her addiction spiraled out of control. She would pop Adderall, smoke weed, and drink until she passed out. Yet, she learned to be a master manipulator and hide it from her parents. It wasn’t until they logged onto their bank account and saw all the alcohol purchases on Danielle’s credit card that they realized she had a problem. Yet, her road to recovery would be filled with lots of ups and downs.

Danielle remembers the day that her identity changed. She never questioned herself self-worth until one day at school. She explains, “I lived with this unbroken confidence for years. Until one day when I was ten years old, a typical coming-of-age thing happened to me: I started to notice boys in my class. This was normal. Except I was a little bit heavier than the other girls; the other girls seemed to get noticed back, and I didn’t… That day my identity changed.” At 16, she snuck out of the house to party, hoping to claim the attention of a young man, who pressed boundaries that she never wanted to cross. She was violated and ashamed which only led to more unhappiness. “I soon discovered that something could quickly activate in me the things I believed I lacked. I drank to become exciting, witty, and vivacious. I took Adderall to make focused and determined. I smoked weed to relax. I threw up most of my meals to get skinny. I had figured out the perfect system…” During this time, Danielle’s identity was broken.

She hit rock bottom after going to 90 meetings in 90 days. She relapsed again right after returning to college. She lied to her parents again when they called to check up on her. Her father sent her a sweet letter confronting her in a very loving way. The letter pierced her heart and she called her parents and confessed everything. She went into a three-month rehab center where she had to learn her true identity in Christ. Today, she is four years sober and she leads a Celebrate Recovery program at her parent's church.

Danielle never thought she could live a normal life as a wife. Yet, in the spring of 2016, she met a wonderful Christian man and they married on July 19, 2019. She shares, “I do not deserve the life I have today. But grace found me.”

Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info


Co-authors, Prodigal Daughter (Zondervan, 2019)

Rob: founder & senior pastor, Shoreline Church (15k members), founder of Caleb Foundation to honor their son, lost in a car accident. Rob is married to Laura, children: Caleb, Danielle, & Luke.

Danielle: director of The Landing, a Celebrate Recovery Program for teens at Shoreline, speaker, writer.


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