‘I had no gumption except to get high’

Prison bound, a young heroin addict shares her perilous journey into drug addiction – 

By Patricia Beech – 

The following is a true story. Names and places have been changed to protect the identities of the innocent.
When in your life did you decide you wanted to be a drug addict?
“Never!” The answer came emphatically, without hesitation. “There was never a time when I decided I wanted to be a drug addict.”
The young woman speaking – we’ll call her Kellyanne – is sitting in Sheriff Kimmy Rogers’ office.
Clad in a bright orange jailhouse jumpsuit and rubber jailhouse shoes, she sits cross-legged in her chair, feet tucked beneath her knees like a Buddhist. She’s smart, pretty, and soon she will be begin her new life as a prisoner in the Ohio Reformatory for Women.
Drug addiction has brought her to the darkest point of her life – a life which ironically began on a much brighter, promising note. As a teenager, Kellyanne was an achiever surrounded by a loving, supportive family. There was no doubt that she would be successful in life.
“I graduated in the top five in my senior class, I was captain of the cheerleading squad, I was in Choir, I was in band, I was the lead in the high school musical my senior year, I maintained a 4.0 GPA, and I also tried heroin for the first time my senior year.”
Now 26 years old, Kellyanne’s spiral toward addiction began when she was just 14.
“A local doctor prescribed me 60 Percosets a month for my scoliosis, I was under the impression I was supposed to take 60 of them every month, and so, that opened the door to recreational use,”
She suddenly found herself very popular with an older crowd of teens who she says “encouraged her to bring pills to their weekend parties”.
“Obviously, lines got blurred very quickly, but in the beginning it was much more recreational, there was never a physical dependency on any of the substances I tried in high school. I genuinely believe that we all thought it was just fun and games,” she says before adding, “I watched it take a toll on everyone. Two of my best friends were in their football uniforms when they smoked meth for the first time on my back porch. One has been clean for five years, the other has been incarerated for over seven.”
Looking back, Kellyanne says that lack of education and information regarding the consequences and dangers of drug abuse played a major role in her choice to use drugs.
“If I had been more informed and educated and known the consequences of drug abuse much earlier, I genuinely believe that I wouldn’t even have dabbled in what I did during high school,” she says. “I can remember absolutely refusing to hit a joint because my Mom pounded it into my head – Do not smoke weed, do not smoke weed – it’s a gateway drug, but there I was snorting pain pills, because my doctor said that I could, but I always refused to smoke weed.”
When Kellyanne graduated high school her future looked bright, college was on the horizon for the 4.0 student – and so was tragedy.
“After I graduated I got pregnant, but I didn’t use drugs at all while I was pregnant because at that point I was using recreationally, so I had no desire for it,” she says.
Two weeks before her delivery date, the baby died unexpectedly.
“7 pounds, 9 oucnes, 21” long – he was perfect and the doctors couldn’t give me any explanation for his death except stress.”
Unable and unwilling to cope with her grief, both Kellyanne and the baby’s father turned to drugs.
“It was not recreational anymore – we were using every single day to escape the pain, and it worked perfectly,” she says. “That’s when my drug abuse became a hot mess. I became physically addicted, and at some point it stopped being about escaping the pain. I just wanted to be high all the time. It consumed my entire being. It was all I thought about. I had no gumption except to get high, to get high, to get high.”
Look for Part 2 of this story in the upcoming June 25 weekend edition of The People’s Defender.