UNION CITY, INDIANA — A Better Life – Brianna’s Hope meeting, at Wesley United Methodist Church, in Union City, Indiana, featured some Darke County, Ohio guest speakers at its April 30 meeting.
In an effort to help answer questions about the growing drug addiction problem, Better Life – Brianna’s Hope Chapter Leader Kevin Lawrence invited hosted speakers: recovering addict Debby Houdeshell of Greenville, Counselor Tisha Sheperd of Recovery & Wellness Centers Of Mid-west Ohio, Director of Hope in Recovery Jeff Feitshans, First Heavy Metal Church of Christ Pastor Mike Fisher and event organizer Samantha Wolfe. Wolfe, of Sidney, was moved to start the Heroin Awareness sessions after losing people she loved to the drug.
Debby Houdeshell’s story of using began at age 14. She and several of her family members are in recovery. They are recipients of Vivitrol in Darke County. Her sister was the second person to receive it in the county, Debby and her husband were three and four, her mom was number five. Her brother is receiving Vivitrol and has been clean for 42 days. Here is her story.
“My childhood was pretty unstable and kind of scary, but there was good in it too,” she said. “I started using drugs around age 14, with pot, drinking quite a bit, pills and then cocaine. I was 16 and my mom kicked me out because she was worried about the effects my being home would have on my younger brother and sister. I moved from home into an active Meth (methamphetamine) house. Two years into that, I was heavily strung out on Crystal meth. That house was raided and shut down – I wasn’t there when that happened.
“I was clean for two years, because I immediately got pregnant with my oldest daughter and things were pretty good. But I started going out to the bar again. Then, my youngest daughter came from those events and it wasn’t good from that point on. I was drinking a lot, using barbiturates, Xanax and Klonopins pretty heavily. In 2007, I met my husband and he was clean, just coming home from prison. I was having using Xanax which turned to pain pills. He already liked pain pills and I had tried them before. There was something about the first time using them – you never stopped. We functioned pretty good for the most part. I kept a job and things didn’t seem to be that out of the ordinary. Pills got expensive. We went from Vicadin to Percocets to Methadone. We were pretty strung out on Methadone prior to using heroin, and it just got expensive. Plus, everyone around us had already tried heroin at this point. We just decided, why not, and things progressively went down hill.”
“We stayed away from the needle for about four years. I knew that it would be detrimental and it was. Up until the point of using a needle, there wasn’t too much illegal activity to get drugs, and at that point, my grandparents were funding it for us. Once we shot up it was pretty much over. It just took the withdrawals away so fast and it also intensified them so much. My husband started robbing other drug dealers, garages and houses in the neighborhood and eventually that caught up with him. When they were coming to indict him on a burglary he had done, we didn’t want to answer the door. It turned into about a 3-1/2 hour stand – off, mostly because we were nodding in and out of consciousness. He was arrested and he was gone. Between the county jail time and the time spent in the Monday Program, he was gone a year. In that year it was very dark.”
“For one, I wasn’t having to help contribute to his habit it was solely my own, so i started using a lot more. In about two weeks before he was due to come home, I was raided for trafficking heroin around my children and they were immediately removed from my home. I was arrested and charged with three counts of trafficking heroin and in jail for 41 days. In that time, my husband was released from the Monday program and overdosed. He had to be brought back with Narcan. I was released and due to everything that had happened, my marriage was over, my kids were gone, I was homeless and had nothing. There was something that told me it would be worth it to try to put effort into a new way of life.”
“We stumbled a little bit, we relapsed and begged for Vivitrol. We were number 3 and 4 in the county to receive it. We completed Recovery and Wellness, we completed everything that children services and probation needed us to complete. I was in the Passages Program, which is a recovery group that meets three times a week. It all seemed overwhelming, but I felt it was necessary. I needed all that structure in my life. We have been clean since January 31, 2015. My kids have been home with me since October, 2015. My children services case is closed. It was really hard, my kids have suffered a lot from my actions, which we still deal with everyday. I feel like I am now the mom that can hopefully help work them through that. I wouldn’t be here where I am. if it wasn’t for the services we have in our county.”
A Better Life – Brianna’s Hope meetings are open to anyone struggling with addiction. They take place Sundays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Wesley United Methodist Church, 515 W. Oak Street, Union City, Indiana.
EDS NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing series titled “Fatal Addiction” that will address the drug problem and effects on residents and resources in Darke County.
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4354. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.