Thursday, August 10, 2017

TOP STORY >> A liftime of addiction

By Christy Hendricks
Leader staff writer

Jane has been in withdrawal for a couple days. Her head is hurting her, but she’s dealing. She’s sitting on her porch smoking cigarettes. She never intended to become an addict. She was raised by meth addicts and knows the path drugs can take a person down.

“My mom was a crackhead,” she said. “So I knew meth, alcohol and cocaine got you high. But I didn’t know you could get high on pills. If I had known back then that pills get you high, I would probably be more messed up than I am now. I would probably be like my mom.”

“When you’re raised with someone who’s doing it constantly you see how it ruins lives,” she said. “The only thing I ever had an interest in was pot. I never thought ‘Hey, I’ve got $10 let’s go get a dime bag. But I have looked in my wallet over and over to see if I had that $7.”

Jane’s mother has used drugs for a long time. “My mom did whatever she wanted to do to get high,” Jane said. “It’s not the high feeling I’m looking for, it’s the feel-good feeling. If I go to the gym and work out, I get that feeling. But it’s not the same.”

Jane has two siblings that she doesn’t really know. The oldest lived with other family members and the other was adopted.

“I’m not going to sell my kids for drugs. I’m sure there are people out there that would. I have two older siblings. What happened to them is a family secret that I overheard,” she said. “I’ve only met the oldest, he lived with other family members. He’s smart. He graduated early. After he graduated high school, he came to live with us, which was probably a bad decision because he got on dope, because my parents were on dope.”

The other sibling was adopted.

She was three when her mother met her stepfather. “He’s abusive. He’s a crackhead. He’s a meth head. He’s a do-whatever-it-takes-to-get- high-type person. He collects disability so he doesn’t have to go to work. He will literally do anything or throw anyone under the bus to get high.”

Her parents would cook meth in the house, sending her to her room and placing towels under the door to protect her from the fumes. “If the house would have blown up those towels wouldn’t have protected me.”

Jane has never touched meth. “I saw what it did to my parents. I swore I would never touch it, and I never have,” she said. “My life would have been totally different if my parents hadn’t done dope. I don’t want that for my kids. My kids are not going to have to hide in their room because they’re parents are doing a drug deal in the living room. I won’t put my kids’ life in danger because I made someone mad, and the house got shot at.”

Jane saw the dark side of drug use. “I saw the ruining lives part of it. I remember my step-dad sitting in a lawn chair in the living room without a shirt on. The door was open, and he was yelling out the door at the FBI and DEA that weren’t there. My mom looks like a crack head. My parents have nothing. It ruined my mom of being able to stick up for herself, and it led to him being able to hold that over her head.”

At age 16, Jane gave her mother an ultimatum. “I told my mom it’s him and the meth or it’s me. I ended up at my uncle’s house,” she said. “I know what it feels like to crave a high. It’s a great feeling. Would I give my kids up for that feeling? No. I’m sure that her addiction is tougher for her than it is for me. I could put them down. But I would probably not feel like me anymore.”

But prescription opiates have her hooked. And according to Jane, it’s a mental addiction she’s dealing with.

“I wouldn’t do the things my mom did for the high. Could I put (the pills) down? Yes, I could. It would probably take a while for me to try and figure out what to do to get to where I’m able to do the things I do with them,” she said. “I’m not saying the high is not good, but that’s not why I take them. I could take them and be completely wrapped up in a hobby. I wouldn’t be scatterbrained with them. There’s a pile of clothes in there that needs to be mended or the sleeves cut off or hemmed. If I went in there right now and did them, I’d probably get through three or four shirts or pants and then I’d go watch TV. If I took a pill, I’d finish them. It literally makes every aspect of my life better. I don’t like the killing-my-liver part. But my life is good.”

Jane says she’s not chasing the high. “I know people take pills to get high. It’s not the high I’m looking for. It’s that I want to feel good. I want to accomplish something. It’s a ‘me’ fix that I’m looking for. I can go weeks without it.”

The first few days are rough when she’s going without. She plays it off to others as just not feeling well, but really she’s in withdrawal from opioids.

“I never really thought that I’m planning my day around drugs, but I do that,” Jane said. “I plan my day around when am I getting it. Like I said, I can go weeks without it, but I might decide I need my house cleaned or something. I could be completely clean, but as soon as I have one of those triggers I’m going to get my hands on it. You don’t think I feel bad driving down the street knowing where I’m going? That’s $500 a month. I could do a lot with $500 a month.”

Finances are not so good for Jane’s family this week.

“This week, we’re broke. It’s bad when your husband tells you how much his check is and your first thought is ‘there goes my spot,’” Jane said. “It’s not something that I’m proud of. ”

Jane says the last three years have been the most hard core of her addiction. “Before that, it wasn’t something I thought about all the time. It was more of ‘oh yeah, that sounds good.’ Now I have those days where I haven’t had any for three weeks, and I’m like, ‘Today would be a good day.” It’s just one phone call. If I could get away with taking them every day I would. That’s the problem. If I had an unlimited supply I would take them every day.”

She doesn’t get scared when she takes pills. “It scares me when I start feeling sick after I take them. I like to get to a certain level of high, that I’m comfortable at. You know when you start rising, that’s where your level is about to start, so you start doing what you wanted to do when you took them. Once you go past that level you’re comfortable at is when you start getting scared.”

She knows the risk of overdose is high.

“If you have six pills in your possession, and it takes two of them to get that high, that Super Woman feeling, that leaves you with four. Then you take another two because the first two didn’t get you where you needed to go. Then you only have two left, that you’re waiting to save until tomorrow. But you’ve taken the others and 45 minutes has passed, an hour has passed, and you’re not feeling that high, so you take one more. That only leaves you with one. What is that one going to do for you when you take it later? Nothing. So before you think that it’s even two hours before you want to come down, you’re going to take that last one you have. That’s where you overdose. Those aren’t doing it for you so you take this one a little bit later. But then you’re down to not having a full dose anymore so you just go ahead and take that. I could overdose at anytime.”

Jane has no plans to get help with her addiction. She knows it’s available, but she’s not ready.

“In some way or another, everyone’s chasing the high. People that jump around in church, praise the Lord with their hands up, that’s a rush for them,” she said. “I’ve been there, jumping around, singing praise. It is a rush from head to toe. When you walk out of that church you feel refreshed like nothing can get you down. It might not be an illegal drug, but it’s still that feeling. That something that gets you to where you want to be. To get you to that point where you want. Some people go for positive addictions while others go for something that’s destructive. People think the only thing they’re going to ruin is their own life. But if I were to overdose it would affect you. It would affect my husband and kids, your kid. It would affect my co-workers. It would affect a lot of people.

“I want to be able to tell you that I know what I’m doing. But I’m sure those people that have said that weren’t planning on overdosing either.”