Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jan 2006
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2006 Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Meg Haskell
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


I am a 38-year-old woman from Bangor. I am a recovering addict, just
restarting my life. I've been clean for a year, and it's the hardest
thing I've ever done. I want teenagers and people of all ages to know
that if you think using drugs is fun now, it won't be fun for long.

I'm concerned with the recent "Finding a Fix" column in favor of
legalizing some drugs. If you are out there thinking that drugs should
be legalized, drugs have definitely blinded your judgement. Drugs took
everything I loved from me and changed who I really was for a long

When you abuse drugs, they make all your choices. You stop being the
person you were before you started using. Drug addiction doesn't care
about your age or where you come from. It'll take everything from you
- - your self-worth, dignity and values. You do things that you would
never think of doing if you weren't on drugs.

I started using drugs and alcohol when I was only 10 years old, and I
just got clean at the age of 37. When I used, all I cared about was
where I would get my next high and how. I put my family through hell.
I stole from my parents and didn't care what I did to them. They stood
by me even though I was doing the things I did.

I was in a hospital in Massachusetts from the age of 18 until I was 20
years old because I was so out of control. After I got out of there, I
went right back to the same routine.

My children were taken from me in 2003 because I couldn't take care of
them because of my addiction. I chose drugs over them. I have to look
at myself in the mirror every day and live what I did to them. It
hurts me all the time, but I own up to what I have done to my kids.

I hit bottom hard in 2004. I used the loss of my children as an excuse
to use more drugs. I was addicted so badly to opiates that I was
physically sick. My liver was ruined and my diabetes was out of
control. I also spent 30 days in jail that year for trafficking drugs.

When I was in jail, I saw a substance abuse counselor who told me
about the Wellspring drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in
Bangor. I had a screening and was put on the waiting list. I went into
treatment on Nov. 9, 2004. This program helped me look deep inside and
see why I used. I will never forget all the things I learned from the
staff there.

I see now that my addiction controlled my life for a long time. I
didn't have a real childhood or a normal life. I grew up too quickly.
Some people blame others for their addiction. I have done that, too,
but no one ever forced any drugs up my nose or in my mouth. I chose to
do it myself. The blame game is only another excuse to use more drugs.

Now I have control. I make the right choices and I choose not to use
drugs. I am able to take part in my life, drug-free and happy. My kids
and I get along well and I have a better understanding of myself.

If you really want help with your substance abuse, you have to be
willing to go to any lengths to receive that help. After all, you went
to any lengths to get your drugs. It will get better if you want it

Legalizing drugs is a bad idea that will only make it easier for
people to get and stay addicted.

Please join our weekly conversation about Maine's substance abuse
problem. We welcome comments or questions from all perspectives.
Letters may be mailed to Finding a Fix, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box
1329, Bangor 04401. Send e-mail contributions  ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin