In a recent edition, the Dayton Daily News reported, “Overdose drug available in Dayton without prescription.” The feature included sobering statistics that five people in Ohio die each day from drug overdoses. Whether you agree or disagree with making Narcan available to addicts and family members of addicts, maybe it’s time to consider one woman’s story.
As I relate her story , know that each process of recovery from addiction to street drugs or prescription painkillers is individual. If one size did fit all or most, we certainly would have a better handle on the problem.
Misty Turner says her life of drug and alcohol abuse started at age five when her dad began letting her drink a little beer – and they kept it a secret from her mom. At age 13, she began actively seeking alcohol. She was shy and wanted to be more outgoing. A personality change came with alcohol obtained from her older friends or her dad’s stash.
She thought that she might have a problem, but “I liked the feeling of oxycontins, cocaine, meth, opiates, anything that would speed me up.”
At 16 , she was blacking out, but she attributed it “to alcohol or that I wasn’t eating right.”
Next, she began cashing stolen checks and stealing medicine and money from her parents and her employer.
At age 20, she plea bargained and received five years of probation, and by 2004, she had two children who were taken away from her. She felt that everyone was ganging up on her, so she broke her probation and traveled to Louisville where she broke into houses and robbed her employers.
At a homeless shelter, she broke all the rules and was kicked out after a month, pregnant, still using. “I was dope-sick. I started shooting up and that was my first experience with it. I liked it, the rush, quicker, the flushing. Before I had crushed and snorted my pills. When I was using, I was friendly, talkative, confident; when I wasn’t using, I was awkward, a wallflower. I had no concern for the baby growing inside me or myself.”
Next, she and her then boyfriend robbed a gas station in Indiana where she had once worked, and she ended up at an Indiana women’s prison for 11 months. There, she gave birth to her daughter and gave her up for adoption. Then it was parole, back to prison, parole, back to criminal activities and finally a choice of prison or rehab.
She says, “I was familiar with jail, but not treatment. The first three months were tough. I laid in my bed and cried. It took me a while to come clean, to become a part of the community at the rehab center, to modify my behavior, my thinking.
She reports that she was able to change her thinking and her behavior because of the following:
• “Prayer. I prayed for the first time. I learned there is something out there. I prayed even though I wasn’t sure what I was praying to.
• “I learned not everybody is out to get me or hurt me. I can’t always recognize what I’m doing that’s hurtful, and I need someone on the outside to tell me.
• “The rehab center gave me a chance to take a break from life – to reflect on what my life had been like, that I’m an addict, an alcoholic. I realized that I couldn’t be trusted. I couldn’t keep my word. I had no self respect. I was down to nothing.
• “At the center they taught me that I still had the opportunity to change, to be a mom, a loving daughter, a responsible sister.
• “I learned you can be sober through anything. I saw a woman losing her daughter to death, but she stayed sober, and that gave me hope.
• “Finally, I learned I could decide I wanted to be something different. And it would take a lot of work.”
Of the AA group she attend while in treatment, she says, “I love the group, so genuine, so grateful you are there, that they are there and want to pass it on to someone else. They love to see new people. They’ve been there and they remember. They stay humble, reach out, give support. If you’re in self-pity, they’ll tell you. They aren’t always warm and fuzzy, They don’t sugarcoat it.”
Clean and sober for seven years, she has completed an associate degree in business administration and is well on her way to completing a bachelor’s degree. She’s happily married and her 17-year-old daughter lives with her. She says, “I see some of me in her and it terrifies me. I’m concerned about the genetic factor as well as the experimentation that many teens do with drugs and alcohol.”
She knows that recovery is a lifelong process, and when she needs to, what does she do? Calls her sponsor and attends an AA meeting.
Vivian Blevins is a consultant for the Training Solutions Group Inc. who teaches courses in writing and literature for major telecom company employees. Reach her at (937) 778-3815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Reach