AMORY – Dana Copeland, director of Monroe County Sav-A-Life, said in almost all of her court-ordered parenting classes, the people involved are there as a result of meth.
When the classes started in 1998, they were basically just parenting skills classes. Beginning in 2006, the classes involved meth users. Now in 2010, five out of nine attending the classes have meth-related causes.
“I got involved in the meth world through the parenting classes,” said Copeland. “I realized it was so big in Monroe County that something needed to be done for the families.”
An organization to address this problem, Mothers Against Methamphetamine (MAMa of Monroe County) has been organized and will have its first meeting Aug. 12 at the Sav-A-Life Building in Amory. It will be a community organizational meeting, where people can learn about the group.
There will be monthly meetings of MAMa of Monroe County for family members affected by meth.
A recent workshop brought in Dr. Mary Holley of Huntsville, Ala.
Holley wrote the book, “Crystal Meth – They Call It Ice,” an information-packed manual in memory of her younger brother whose life was sacrificed due to a form of meth known as “Ice.”
The workshop attendees learned that it takes 11⁄2 years to recover from brain damage done through the use of meth.
“Meth is worse than crack,” said Holley. “Also, the mental withdrawal from meth is not physical like heroin.”
Holley said 97 percent of meth users used other drugs prior to trying meth.
“We haven’t seen anything in this country yet with meth,” Holley said. “Other countries just try to control it. We are the only country that does rehab and prevention.”
Copeland said the upcoming meeting will inform people about the goals for the Mothers Against Methamphetamine chapter here.
MAMa of Monroe County wants to make crystal meth undesirable and unnecessary in the communities and families by providing prevention programs, support services for those affected by crystal meth, awareness programs and intervention referrals.
“We want to educate the community about meth and meth addiction,” said Copeland. “There will be people at the monthly meetings who have walked through it, telling their story. They have to have one year of sobriety to share at the meetings.”
Copeland said another big area was prenatal awareness of women using meth. If a doctor suspects drug abuse when a baby is born, the baby is tested. If the test is positive, the Department of Human Services is called and they take the baby.
“We want the mother to go to rehab in pregnancy,” Copeland said. “Quit fearing it. If you know you use meth, get into rehab. We don’t want to create a hostile environment, but down the road these babies suffer.”
MAMa always wants to prevent young people from starting to use meth.
“I have never seen people affected like with meth,” said Copeland. “They are killing themselves on meth. It is dangerous to families in the home. The “shake and bake” method (for making meth) is very dangerous.”
One reformed meth user, who wished to remain anonymous, said she had burned a camper down while using meth. Another said holes were burned in the trailer floors. Meth is like liquid fire.
Two local recovering addicts, Carrie Hicks and Wendy Calhoun, are willing to share their experiences with others.
Hicks said she has been clean since Feb. 19, 2009.
“I was a recreational user. I have spent seven weeks in the county jail,” said Hicks. “When I got out I had no place to go. I was determined I wanted to get clean.”
Hicks left her boyfriend who she said was a dope cooker.
“My grandparents have given me an opportunity to become a better person,” said Hicks. “I am a welcomed guest in their home. They didn’t trust me and were unsure of me, but they loved me. I am there one night at a time. I am a graduate of the parenting class and a recovering drug addict.”
Hicks said she did not have any coping skills. She said she is learning to cope now with the help of God, her family and the support group.
Hicks has a job and is on her way to becoming that better person for herself and her family.
Calhoun said she used various drugs since 1986. She first started using meth in 2005.
“My husband and I lost homes and businesses,” said Calhoun. “Meth almost killed me. I wouldn’t give it up. All I thought about was getting high.”
Calhoun said she has been sober since March 10, 2009. She was sober when she went to jail the last time on April 27, 2009, for earlier offenses.
“God broke me. I knew I was going to prison,” said Calhoun. “One night I started crying and couldn’t quit. I had a grandchild I had only seen twice. I asked God to help me. It was the first time I had asked God for help.”
Calhoun said she had been in 26 rehab facilities, but nothing had worked. She just did not want to stop. Four about a four-month span in 2008, she had been up almost constantly with almost no sleep.
“I didn’t eat, didn’t bathe and had no shoes on my feet,” she said. “I have cooked dope in abandoned houses. I have had such paranoia that I would climb a tree and spend all night.”
Calhoun said some will not think relapse is a problem, but it is.
“People need to understand that most addicts will endure a relapse during recovery,” said Calhoun. “If someone relapses, don’t remain in the relapse. Get out quick. Hold yourself accountable to someone. I do and don’t hide relapses. Deal with them and get back on your feet.
“Relapses don’t have to keep happening. Get help and learn from it. Identify triggers and avoid people, places and situations where you will face temptation.”
For more information about MAMa in Monroe County, contact Copeland at (662) 257-9043.
Alice Ortiz/Monroe Journal