A family torn apart by addiction –
By Patricia Beech –
Kelleyanne, a local heroin addict now serving time in the Ohio Women’s Reformatory, began using drugs recreationally after being prescribed pain pills by her doctor when she was 14 years old.
At age 19 her drug use landed her in jail after she was arrested for shoplifting while vacationing in Florida. Desperate, she turned to her family for help.
Her mother, Diana, says she felt certain “after being arrested and incarcerated” her daughter would “never do this again”. She paid Kelleyanne’s fines and brought her home to Adams County where she created a support system of friends and family to watch over her daughter as she went through her self-imposed rehabilitation.
Not knowing the signs and symptoms of addiction, Diana says the people supporting Kelleyanne during her rehabilitation were “blindsided when they realized she’d begun to use once again”.
“We thought if something happens we’re going to know, but it always happened again, and we didn’t know,” she says. “Kelleyanne was with me all the time, and she was good for a while, but I think a lot of addicts do that – they get a little bit of your trust back, and then it happens again because you’ve put the rose-colored glasses back on and you feel better, and then, it happens again.”
Diana says despite using heroin, her daughter felt she had to “live up to a standard set by her family”, and she was desperate to keep up appearances.
“She went to college, she worked two jobs, she didn’t use with other addicts, she made sure she got the drug and did it herself, and she still remained productive – that productive citizen facade was very important to her.”
Her “productive citizen facade” also shielded her from suspicion and kept her drug use under the radar.
When she realized her daughter was using again, Diana decided to do an intervention. Confronted by her family and friends, Kelleyanne agreed to go into an outpatient rehabilitation center.
Unaware that her daughter was still using heroin and failing the outpatient center’s drug tests, Diana says she allowed herself to hope.
“Initially, I thought this is great – we even tried Suboxone, I wasn’t a fan of that, but she wanted to try it. Nothing changed – she was still working two jobs, going to school, and using heroin, but no one knew.”
In time, Diana learned, as many parents had before her, that her own actions and choices were enabling her daughter’s drug abuse.
“I thought Kelleyanne had the worse luck of anyone I ever met in my life,” she says. “She’d call and say somebody’s stolen my wallet, or they shorted me on my check, or I don’t have enough money to pay my car insurance, it was always something.”
Kelleyanne was using her own money to buy drugs, and relying on her mother to replace it.
“When I realized what was happening, of course I stopped,” says Diana. “Instead of giving her money I’d take her to the gas station or the grocery store and pay for it myself. I truly didn’t realize I was still doing the same thing, being an enabler.”
It was Kelleyanne’s boyfriend at the time who pointed out how toxic their mother-daughter relationship had become.
“I feel bad for you because I can say I’m done and move on,” he told Diana. “But you’re still stuck with her, you still want her to become better.”
“He was right,” says Diana. “Because even if you do tough love, you’re still stuck there with her, you still want her to become better. Even during the times when I’ve been so mad at her I couldn’t stop, I’d become addicted to her.”
As their relationship became more and more dysfunctional it began to effect other family members.
“Once I picked my 12-year-old son up from school and he was chattering away about something that happened that day – he stopped and asked me a question, and I remember looking over at him and thinking, I have no idea what he just said, I couldn’t think of anything but Kelleyanne.”
Her son, now grown, recalls the sense of loss he felt while Kelleyanne’s addiction held center stage in the family dynamic. He told Diana, “I lost my sister, and I lost my Mom – it took you away.”
“Drug addiction affects so many people,” says Diana. “Just that one thing, you wouldn’t believe the chaos it rains on everybody around you. My son was only 12-years-old and he was lonely – that breaks my heart – this drug addiction, what it has done to both of my children, I can never get that time back.”
Part Five of this series will appear in the July 19 edition of The People’s Defender)