NORWICH – A mother openly discussed her lifetime struggle with addiction, and shared advice on how to stay drug-free.
"I want people to know that there is hope, and change is possible," she began.
A Norwich resident in treatment court shared her struggles with addiction last week and spoke about her experiences with The Evening Sun.
Treatment court officials spoke highly of the woman's effort at recovery and encouraged her to share her story.
Though her identity was confirmed, her name is being withheld; she gave her story to help inform others, and to fight the addict stigma, but wished to remain anonymous to protect her family and employer.
Her alcohol and drug abuse started at age 13, which years later lead her to become addicted to a series of drugs from marijuana to meth.
"I remember being in my apartment, the electricity had been shut off, the police were coming to kick me out, and my kids were gone. I was going on my fourth day of being high on meth, and I thought about how much I wanted to get better," she said, "but then I would look at myself and think that I couldn't. I would think, just look at yourself, you can't do this."
"That was my addiction talking, and unfortunately I listened. I continued to use, and I thought that in the end there wouldn't be any consequences." she explained.
In 2010 she was arrested and incarcerated for criminal possession of a controlled substance, and she received the opportunity to go to treatment court, but within a few months tested positive for opioids, so she was returned to jail.
"You reach a point in your mind where you don't feel like you can recover," she explained, "You're worn down, you have no sense of self-worth or confidence, and drugs are the only thing that makes you feel okay." she explained.
"I remember every time I left the house my daughter would be in tears screaming in the window," she said, "I could tell she thought I was never coming back."
"I choose drugs over my children, that's how powerful they are. Eventually you realize that, and you hate it."
After she was released and subsequently arrested for the unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine, she said the Chenango County Treatment Court Coordinator James Everard gave her another chance at redemption.
"He argued in court for me to get another shot at treatment court," she said, "I knew that it was my only chance of recovery, and at that point I was ready to commit to it."
With Everard's recommendation she was re-admitted into the treatment court program.
Chenango County Judge Frank Revoir explained that the process of recovery is different for everybody, and that while individuals don't always get a second chance, it's not uncommon for them to stumble along the path to recovery.
"Theres a misconception that when an addict gets treatment court they’re getting a slap on the hand," Revoir said, "A person with no addiction issues would struggle to get through the program. It’s not easy, and we monitor everything."
Revoir explained that being a minute late or calling out of a meeting sick can result in getting kicked out of the program, and regardless of the infraction consequences may be immediate.
In the treatment court contract, individuals must agree to random calls, scheduled meetings, group-therapy sessions, drug tests, and other requirements that have to be met with 100 percent compliance.
"It's a standard even non-addicts aren't held to," Revoir said.
"Treatment court puts addicts into the community that they’re living in." explained Everard, "It makes them deal with the real issues, and figure out a way to survive."
"When you put them in a safe place, they don’t have to deal with that, they can take a vacation from the real world, but when they’re in treatment court they see with their own eyes what the world is going to hand them." Everard explained.
"Now I've got a full-time job, my own apartment, and I get to see my kids everyday." she said.
She said that its the best feeling in the world to be sober, and that for the first time her daughter told her, "You're doing so well, you look beautiful now."
She explained that she still had urges to use drugs, but now she has tools she can use to avoid the temptation.
"The biggest thing is to reach out" she said.
"There are numbers you can call, where people will be there to help you fight the urges. Take advantage of that assistance, and it could save your life."
She added that for the people that are considering using drugs, "Educate yourselves, and know what those drugs are going to do to your body. It'll suck you down a dangerous road that you don't want to go down, and it'll take your family with it."
The Chenango County Alcohol and Substance Abuse hotline recommended by the interviewee is (607) 337-1680.
The statewide substance abuse hotline is 1-877-846-7369.
All calls are toll-free, anonymous, and confidential, if you need help, reach out; they may be able to save your life.