March 31, 2014
Today, the mother of five hasn't seen most of her children in years. She wasn't invited to her son's wedding last summer. And she won't be able to see her daughter graduate from college this spring.
Becky is currently incarcerated for possession of heroin and possession of a drug abuse instrument at the Miami County Jail.
At 47 years old, Becky is seemingly a text book case of an addict who first became hooked on prescription pain pills and then graduated to full-blown heroin addiction in a matter of years.
“I was going to school meetings. I was T-ball mom. (My husband) was the bread winner and I stayed home with the kids. I was the typical small-town American stay-at-home mom,” she said.
Nearly five years ago, Becky began using heroin after years of prescription pill abuse. She's overdosed hours after leaving rehab. She's been arrested multiple times.
With pride, she described her home she shared with her husband and children as a warm and cozy house in a nice small-town neighborhood. That same home would later have its aluminum siding torn off and scrapped for money to buy drugs.
“If you would have seen my life five years ago from now, you would have been shocked,” she said. “I'm not a stupid person, I know what I did was wrong. I just let my life get away.”
Mother's little helper
Becky said her addiction began after the traumatic birth of her youngest son. Now a teenager, he was born with cerebral palsy and autism and almost died during birth.
When her son was sent to another hospital for care, Becky tried to recover quickly so she could to be with her child.
But before she was discharged from the hospital, barely able to walk, her doctor handed her a large bottle of Vicodine.
“The pain meds has an opposite effect on me. They gave me energy and I felt great,” she said. “All I needed was energy to take care of my son.”
A year later, Becky underwent a hysterectomy and once again was prescribed an even stronger pain medication for pain from the surgery.
“I would tell myself that to cope with the stress of taking care of myself and my son, I needed these pills,” she said. “By then, it had snowballed in to full blown addiction to pain pills.”
Becky said she was aided by her family doctor who wouldn't question her use of pain medication. The doctor, who is no longer in practice, also would honor Becky's request for Xanax for anxiety and more pain meds for back pain. The back pain she attributed from taking care of her disabled son.
“(The doctor) wouldn't question or argue,” she said. “I'd just tell him I was under a lot of stress, which I was taking care of my son and all, or still having back pain from surgery. He was old-school and he would fill my scripts early.”
Becky tried to self-detox herself from the medications, but found it made her too sick. Her husband was getting fed up with her condition, so she began hiding the pills around the house.
“I needed to be Super Mom,” she said. “I just couldn't do it.”
Seemingly at every turn, Becky found more pills instead of answers.
Her husband began to worry when she began falling asleep early in the evenings.
To prove to her husband that she was ready to get help, Becky called a local hospital which she said referred her to a methadone clinic in Richmond, Ind.
“The methadone got me even higher than the pain pills,” she said.
Becky said she promised her family that she'd cut back on her pills, but found it was too difficult since she was “super addicted” to the methadone and Vicodine.
“He took pictures of me passed out in an ice cream bowl,” she said about her husband's wake up calls for her to get help.
She also would drive over to the methadone clinic in Indiana with her disabled son in tow.
“I'd be driving home higher than a kite,” she said. “Thank God nothing bad happened.”
Escaping the sickness
Her husband finally left her, taking the youngest kids, as well as her only source of income, with him.
Becky was still buying pills from friends and sources in Englewood before her money ran out.
Becky was not alone her in search for pain pills. She was using along with a close family relative.
“She would find pills for me,” Becky said.
Her resources soon were exhausted and Becky began withdrawal so bad that she grew desperate for relief.
“I was getting so sick,” she said.
Her relative's boyfriend offered Becky a hit of heroin for free. “Pills were going for $40 a pill; my (relative) told me how heroin was only $10 a cap.”
A cap is a gel capsule much like the medicine found at the drug store. Drug dealers buy empty caps from health food stores to fill the heroin to distribute.
“I told myself I would try it. One cap. I would do it and then never do it again,” she said.
Becky snorted the cap of heroin. That day began what she said was “the worst addiction of all.”
“It worked really well,” Becky said of the effects from her first hit of heroin. Becky said nearly six months later, snorting the heroin no longer had the same effect. She was experiencing the worst sickness and withdrawals that she had ever experienced.
“I told myself, just this one time, I'll shoot it,” she said. Becky describes the high from injecting heroin as “the greatest, most relaxing euphoria,” and the “greatest high I've ever felt in my life.”
Family ties severed
Yet, the stigma of being a heroin user was never far from her mind.
Becky shared how she grew up in a devout Catholic family with two supportive parents in New Carlisle, Ohio. She was a middle child. With pride, Becky describes how all her sibling are professionals and successful in their fields of work living in the affluent Dayton suburbs of Oakwood and Kettering.
“I'm the black sheep,” she said. Becky said only one of her children chose a path like hers, her oldest daughter. Her oldest daughter's conception most likely serves as the foundation of Becky's addiction nearly 30 years later.
“I was raped at a high school graduation party,” Becky shares, staring at the table and at her handcuffs. “I had my daughter, but I've never really dealt with all that.”
Becky said she later married her husband and had their four children. Her four children with her ex-husband have never used drugs. She remembers being upset at the fact her oldest was caught smoking cigarettes and she felt like the worst parent — a far cry from the mother she is today.
One is still in a local high school, one is graduating college, her disabled son is in junior high and her son, a member of the military, recently got married.
“I wasn't invited to his wedding, that hurt,” she said. “My whole family is embarrassed.”
Becky said she wonders how much her drug addiction has affected her disable son.
“I wonder if he knows or understands what happened to me,” she said. “There's a lot of guilt. A lot of guilt. The guilt I feel is never ending. I try not to think about it.”
Still, Becky reflects on the day that changed her life.
“If I knew that this would all have happened, I would have never taken the first pain killer,” she said. “As an addict, it affects me different than most. It was 'mother's little helper.'”
Life of crime
Becky shares how the first time she was arrested for using stolen prescription as “horrible.”
“I just cried and cried, it was devastating to be in handcuffs and in a cop car,” she said.
Evicted from her home and with no source of income, Becky soon began stealing or “boosting” to support her drug habit.
She describes stealing DVDs from Wal-Mart and selling them to a local video store. She also said she and her relative and her boyfriend often would be found panhandling at local gas stations.
“I was boosting $400 to $500 a day in DVDs from Wal-Mart to pay for everything,” she said. “At Christmas, I'd go out panhandling and telling people me and my son ran out of gas. You'd be surprised how generous people are. I'd get about $50 to $60, enough to get high and get down to Dayton and back.”
She shares some horrible stories of watching drug addicted friends sell their children's Christmas gifts. She said the gifts were from charitable organizations or family members, which were immediately returned to the store for cash. She described watching her friends' children cry as their gifts were sold.
“You see some low, low things,” she said.
Becky said she's never stolen from friends or family, but she shared how she did sell the aluminum siding off her home before it was foreclosed on and she was evicted. She also cut out the catalytic converter from her car for drug money.
Becky never thought stealing was OK.
“You lose your morals, your family. They won't speak to me anymore,” she said. “I'm not welcome at family holidays anymore.”
She shared how she has lived in trailers around Miami County with no water or heat.
“I've never slept on a park bench — yet,” she said. She also said she knows of several “tent cities” along the river banks in Miami County where drug addicts gather because they have no place to go. While she's never stayed in a “tent city” she keeps that option in the back of her mind in case she doesn't have a place to go.
At one point, Becky entered rehab at a time which she described she had “no reason to live anymore.”
She also had no place to go.
She spent 28 days in a drug rehab center in Dayton.
“Twenty-eight days isn't not long enough to even detox, so as soon as I got out, I took my money and got high,” she said.
She also almost died.
Within hours of leaving rehab, Becky overdosed on the streets of Dayton after using one cap of heroin.
“The doctor told me they used so much Narcan that if I overdose again, it won't work,” she said. “That scares me. The possibility of going to prison. That scares me, too.”
At the age of 47, with a criminal record and never holding a job before, Becky said she has little options to fall back on.
“I've never had to work, I have no skills. I'm 47 with a bad record. Who is going to hire me?” she said. “I can make $300 to $400 a day boosting.”
Becky said if she were to kick the drug use, she needs a lot of help.
“I need help with my addiction, mental issues, the guilt and regret, the sadness and depression,” she said. “I need put back in society a little bit at a time and learn how to be a better person.”
In order to completely leave the life of crime and heroin addiction, Becky said she needs the basics of life.
“I need a stable place to live,” she said. “I need to stay busy and kept occupied.”
Becky has received one letter from her family since being incarcerated in August 2013.
“If I could have anything, it would be to reconnect to my family,” she said. “I feel horrible and it's very hard for me to think about. You reach out for support and you don't get it. I just wish I could have my family back. I wish I could talk to my parents, my sister, my kids.”
One deep regret looms over Becky like a dark cloud.
“If I could take it all back, I would have never walked out of that hospital with that bottle of pills,” she said. “It's going to kill me, it's going to take my life.”