Incarcerated due to addiction: It is often said that "others judge us by our behaviors while we judge ourselves by our intentions." That statement could have specifically been written for alcoholic/addicts. Being in recovery myself, I know firsthand the destruction my actions caused while living that lifestyle or being under the influence, but the harm I brought about was definitely not my intention.
Frequently our behaviors become so unacceptable that loved ones begin to set boundaries with us attempting to shield themselves from our hurtful actions. If that fails or the behavior becomes too destructive they may leave or cut ties completely.
If addicts or alcoholics cross the line of the law, society also has to deal with these behaviors. As a result some individuals may end up incarcerated due to addiction. Although this can be a harsh and painful reality, there can also be an upshot to it. Such is the case of Heather, a long time residence of the Jefferson City area.
In a recent interview Heather talked about her experiences of being incarcerated due to addiction. She carries a message of hope and that change can and does happen.
How old were you when you started using and when did you know that you were an addict? I started using at a very young age, before my teens. I was constantly seeking a way to change the way I felt so I think I knew I was an addict from the start, I just didn’t know what it was called.
How many attempts of trying to get clean and sober did you experience before being incarcerated due to addiction? There were 7 treatment center episodes, although I didn’t complete all of these and 4 stays at various mental institutions, with a period of 10 years of being in and out of a self-help group. The longest period of abstinence I achieved was 9 months.
What happened that led to being incarcerated due to addiction? I was living out in the country, so that people wouldn’t know what I was up to. My addiction was out of control and things started spiraling downward. I didn’t have a car, there was no food, no heat and I was going out in the woods and breaking up sticks for the wood stove. I had my daughter with me, who was less than a year old and I was trying to potty train her and I just got to a breaking point one day and cried out to God, "You need to let me die or get me up out of this" Shortly after that I dropped dirty (tested positive on a drug screen). I was on probation and so I knew I was going to prison. I went on the run, but I made my mind up that if they caught up with me I was going to tell them my real name and face the consequences. I knew I couldn’t stop on my own.
What happened in prison? [ being incarcerated due to addiction ] is not something I am proud of but it’s not something I am ashamed of either because everything that has happened in my past has made the woman I am today. Actually, for me, it was a relief because I had become suicidal prior to going to prison. My life was out of control. I choose to use the experience of being incarcerated as a stepping stone to the next place that God has for me to be.
What were some of the struggles of being incarcerated due to addiction? Well, once I began this relationship with God and my heart began to change, I didn’t want to engage in some of the negative things going on around me, such as talking about the past and getting caught up with the negative lifestyle going on around me. I had to walk alone many times and that was hard.
In addition to your strong faith in God you also work a recovery program, how do the two mix? God changed my heart, the twelve steps have given me a set of spiritual principals to apply to my daily living. The outcome, a recipe for life with a very strong foundation.
Do you ever have the urge or craving to use or drink now days? If so, how do you handle that? It’s not the obsessive thoughts that used to run my life, but more of a fleeting thought that occasionally happens during stressful times. I replace the lie with the truth which is, “I don’t drink anymore, I don’t do drugs anymore.”
Heather currently works full-time and is enrolled in college. She is rebuilding the relationships with her children and family members in addition to establishing her place in the community. She is an inspiration to many women and provides proof that there is hope and that recovery is possible, no matter how far down a person can get. incarcerated due to addiction doesn’t always have a positive outcome for everyone, but in Heather’s case it certainly did.
Angie Carter, CRADC, SAP is a certified reciprocal alcohol and drug counselor and DOT certified Substance Abuse Professional. She is in private practice at Carter Counseling & Consulting Services. Angie sees local clients in office and is also available for telephone coaching and/or consultation. Click here to contact Angie with appointment requests, questions, or feedback.