Pubdate: Mon, 23 Aug 2004
Source: Daily Mountain Eagle (Jasper, AL)
Copyright: 2004 Daily Mountain Eagle
Author: Chris Burroughs
Series: Other articles in this series may be found at


No one can argue that an addiction to anything can ruin your life. An
addiction to alcohol, drugs or anything else can tear families apart, lead
to criminal offenses, serious health problems and even death.

NOTE: This is the second in a two part series about the Walker Recovery
Center. Today's story is about a young woman who is taking part in the
treatment offered by the clinic. She agreed to tell her story to the Daily
Mountain Eagle, but asked if her real name not be used. She will be referred
to in the story as "Jane."

Opiates such as heroin and prescription drugs like Lortab and Percodan are
no exception. The Walker Recovery Center is avidly fighting to help opiate
addicts through use of methadone, a drug that has received some bad press,
but staff at the center say it works well in treating addicts.

One of the center's clients is a firm believer in that. "Jane" has been in
the program for over a year and is in the process of putting her life back
in order after many years of addiction.

Jane's long journey began when she was a child. She had migraines when she
was younger, at a time, she said, when very little was known about such

"My first trip to the doctor about these headaches was to find out how I got
my brain tumor and how to treat it. It was that bad," Jane said.

She started taking a narcotic for pain, administered by her mother,
beginning at age 7 until she turned 14. At that point, she said she had her
own bottle of pain medicine. Later on, she started taking Lortab.

"That was my drug of choice. I came into this program (the recovery center)
specifically for Lortab," she said.

When she became pregnant with her first child, Jane said her ob/gyn took her
off Lortab and prescribed Tylenol 3. She said she could call for refills of
the pills, and her doctor always filled them.

"I would take them not just for headaches. I took them for a good mood," she

The problem got progressively worse, with Jane not taking the pills as
prescribed, and would go to see multiple doctors to get prescriptions for
the drugs. She then became pregnant with her second child, and this time
went to another ob/gyn. She tried to do the same thing, calling for refills
whenever she needed them. This time, however, the doctor would not refill
her prescription after discovering how many Lortab she was taking.

"I went five days without anything, and I got sick," she said, describing
her symptoms as vomiting, diarrhea and sweating.

In addition, she said after several days without Lortab, lactic acid began
to build up in her muscles, causing severe cramping and pain.

"The only thing that would make them go away was more opiates," she said.

It was then that Jane decided to seek help.

"My rock bottom was finding out that I was pregnant and I was badly addicted
to Lortab," she said. "Fortunately, I was still maintaining my job and
taking care of my children, but I was buying pills instead of buying

She tried to call the clinic during the Memorial Day weekend, but it was
closed. When she finally reached counselor and pregnancy program director
Kim Wilson on the Tuesday after the holiday, she was told they were booked.
The answer changed when Jane told Wilson she was pregnant - room was
immediately made for her.

After meeting with Dr. Tom Camp, medical director at the center, who wanted
to see if she knew what she would be undertaking, she got involved in the
program, which included taking part in the Today's Mom program offered by
Annelle Studdard with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

"It is not a short process, and there are risks to the baby, but for them to
have me on a controlled methadone was much safer than what I was doing," she

While she was pregnant, Jane attended weekly group sessions and, at one
time, had to go to two sessions a week instead of just one. She said the
sessions helped her to stay devoted to her treatment, her pregnancy and her
nutrition had she not had the sessions.

About four months after entering the program last year, Jane's baby boy was
born. With the exception of having a short stay in the intensive care unit
at the hospital, she said he has turned out to be perfectly healthy.

Jane said the public needs to remember that addiction is a disease, and
similar to how diabetics will use insulin to control their disease, opiate
addicts can use methadone for the same purpose if used as part of a
controlled program.

"There is a stigma about methadone, methadone clinics and clients among the
public. If they would see addiction for the disease it is and methadone as a
drug that does help people and treats that disease, I don't think the stigma
would be there," she said.

She also said she hoped people would see that neither her or anyone else at
the clinic view methadone as a cure, but only as part of a treatment. In
fact, she said, she does not believe it is the most important part. She said
the sessions in group and with a counselor are what is important.

Another thing she wants the public to know is even if a person has to stay
on methadone for the rest of their life, that is not bad. She said she is
more productive now than she was prior to treatment.

But, she said, she believes a time is coming when she won't need it.

"I can actually see my life without methadone, and I am excited about it
because that means I won't be on any drug at all to maintain my mood," she
said. "I can see my way back to what I wanted my life to be like when I was
a little girl."

There is one other thing she is proud of.

"I am a responsible mother. I am a good mother, and nobody can dispute
that," she said. 
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