Pubdate: Mon, 04 Aug 2003
Source: Daily Citizen, The (Dalton, GA)
Copyright: Daily Citizen 2003
Author: Matthew Lakin


Every day's a battle for recovering drug addicts.

And Whitfield County shouldn't expect its battle against methamphetamine and
other drugs to be any easier, they said during a recent counseling session
at the local parole office at 710 S. Hamilton St. "Don't you know this is
Crank USA?" said Eddie, 33, who asked that his last name not be used. "Of
the people in this town between the ages of 20 and 40, I guarantee you one
out of eight are doing drugs." Of the addicts interviewed, all agreed that
meth has become the area's drug of choice.

"The drug problem's a nightmare on everybody's street," said Mark, 42. "I
call it the devil's drug. It's Satan, man. I consider it the U.S. weapon of
mass destruction."

"You can walk out this door and get it," said Alan, 44. The drug's intense
high, which can last for up to 24 hours, and its availability make it hard
for some to resist.

"Some people take it, and their worries go out the door," said Nick, 24. But
meth isn't the only popular drug. Cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana and others are
all easy to find, the addicts said.

"It's everywhere," said Ricky, 33. Drug use began early for some. Tim Seay,
32, said he began using drugs in fifth grade.

"I never even thought about not using (drugs)," he said. Drug use began
later for others. Alan said he was a senior in high school when he started
experimenting with marijuana, then moved on to cocaine. "You get further and
further, not ever realizing you're getting that deep," Alan said. "Your
bravery builds up, and you say, 'Let me try something else.' Before I knew
it, I couldn't stop." Whatever the drug, the results are usually the same,
the addicts said. The addiction kills hopes, ruins lives and tears families
apart. "I've seen people do anything for drugs," Eddie said. "You're still
looking for your first high. If you're sober, it's like starving to death."
Mark and his wife Brenda were both using meth. Over time, they became
paranoid and suspicious of each other. Each suspected the other of hiding
drugs and anything else they could imagine.

"It changes your whole relationship," Brenda said. "It gets that bad." Even
when an addict wants to quit, the addiction won't let go. "I had a
conscience," Alan said. "But the drugs had control. I went to buy it and
hated myself as I was doing it. I prayed the dealer wouldn't be there as I
went to buy it."

And the recovery never really ends. "It just gets more and more tempting,"
Ricky said.

"I have to stay at home," Tim said. "Everybody I knew, when they see me,
they bring out the tinfoil and the straw."

Addicts have to continually guard against falling back into their old
habits. Relapses into drug use are common, even after years of sobriety.
"It's important to know that it's all right to have the urge," Alan said.
"It's OK to have the craving and fight it. You've got to make a choice." The
addicts said they don't have a solution for the county. "I don't think there
is a stopping place," Brenda said. "Throwing people in jail won't help it,"
Nick said.

"We need more education," Alan said. "It begins at home." "You're going to
do what you want to do," Eddie said. "You have to want to help yourself."
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