Reporter Veronica Miracle begins a three-part series, examining the issue of meth in the Valley and the Palouse.
Many in our community consider drug addicts to be really 'bad people' who make 'bad choices.'
While in some cases that might be true, it's hard to generalize all addicts and assume why they ended up the way they did. KLEW News takes you into the lives of some local recovering addicts, who share their stories and give us a glimpse into their personal battles with addiction.
I met my first recovering meth addict through Riverside Recovery. She, like many others in this story, have chosen to stay anonymous. For the sake of simplicity, we'll call her Jane. She grew up in California and started using at the age of 14.
"I missed out on a lot because I was getting high," said Jane. "Even in my teen years."
Her heavy drug use at such a young age resulted in 15 years of prison time and seven pregnancies. And most of her children, she only knows through pictures.
"Every time I had a child, CPS would intervene and take the baby," said Jane.
It was a cyclical high for Jane. She said she was trapped by her addiction to meth, but wanted to break free to be in her childrens' lives. But Child Protective Services was hardly forgiving, considering her drug problems and past record, so she kept on using.
"It numbed me," said Jane. "It numbed me from the pain, the sadness, the depression I was feeling from not having my children."
Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Kellie Baker of Riverside Recovery said it's not uncommon to see this type of situation when people start using at a young age.
"It affects the part of them that they're learning coping skills and how to deal with life in general and so they find the buzz to be a good escape and a coping skill," said Baker. "It becomes their entertainment so it's stunts them in that way developmentally."
Jane was so deep into her high, she used while pregnant. And during her first sentence in prison, she ended up giving birth to one of her seven children there.
"I was by myself, I had no family," said Jane. "At that point I wasn't sure if my family was going to be able to come and get him. And then after delivery you're basically cuffed to the bed until you are transported back to the prison."
It wasn't until two years ago when Jane became pregnant with her seventh child that she and her husband decided it was time to move away from the drug scene that she was drawn to like a moth to a flame.
"I'm happy with my sobriety today," said Jane. "I sleep every night. I eat three times a day plus. I have everything going for me right now. And if I was to get high, all that would just go away."
"As a person changes and grows and starts to value their lives and value the lives of their family and they start to see some progress, that helps motivate them to stay clean," said Baker.
While many years of her life were taken by the drug, she said it's the strong support system around her that finally helped her kick the habit and get clean.
"It straightened me out, gave me a new life," said Jane. "I'm going to cry. Today I have custody of my son and actually my oldest daughter is here with me."
During her years of heavy meth use, Jane contracted Hepatitis C and two of her children were born with meth in their system. Because of the life Jane led she won't be able to get in touch with any of her children until they turn 18, however she does have custody of her seventh child.
She's now intent on living a different life from the one she once knew and has been sober for two years now. She said her new chance at life keeps her clean.