Out of the Darkness

KrystalKrystal is a current client of the bluegrass.org Narcotics Addiction Program (NAP).  She has been a client since October 2008 and is currently benefiting from medically assisted treatment with methadone.
Krystal began using drugs at age 13.  At first it was marijuana and alcohol; when she was 16 she advanced to cocaine and acid.  Krystal had been sexually abused by her stepfather from the age of 12.  When she looks back she feels that her drug abuse was a way to escape emotionally from her home life.  She was a juvenile delinquent, would skip school, come home severely intoxicated and was totally out of control.  When her mother told her she was going to call social services to intervene, Krystal finally broke down and told her mother about the abuse.  When her mom confronted the stepfather, he admitted to everything and moved out.  Even though Krystal was the victim, she still felt  guilty because her family was being torn apart. 
Krystal went to a group home due to her ongoing drug use and behavioral issues while she was a minor.   Things went well at the home and at age 18 she moved back in with her mom and joined the army reserves.  She got married and had her first child.  She was clean and sober and things were going smoothly at this time of her life. 
When her son was 2 ˝ years old, Krystal reunited with an old friend who talked to her about doing pills.  She began using them and thought she had things under control; however, once she did Oxycontin, she said “it was all over”. She could not stop taking this drug.  When she did not take it she would become severely physically ill.  She was spending an average of $200/day on Oxycontin since one pill cost $50.00.  To enhance the effect of the drug, she began shooting it up.  Her husband and her mother tried tirelessly to stop her from using drugs and offered tremendous love and support to her.  Sadly, her drug abuse continued and her marriage fell apart.
Krystal left her son with his father and moved in with a former boyfriend who had a long history of drug abuse.  Things began escalating at this point.  Together they would do cocaine and smoke crack.  They went through over $60k in 2 months on drugs.  She remembers stabbing herself in the arm over and over trying to find a good vein.  At this point she said she did not care if she lived or died, but then she became pregnant with her second child.  She went to a doctor who prescribed her Lortab to help taper off other drugs.  Early in the pregnancy she still did crack, but eventually restricted her drug use to the Lortab.  After the baby was born, she immediately started shooting up again.  They moved in with her boyfriend's grandmother and sold her antiques to buy drugs.  Their days consisted of doing pills during the day and shooting cocaine at night.  Drug dealers were always making trips to their house. Krystal was in such a dark place and was constantly fearful for her son’s life that she sent him to live with her mother.  Krystal remembers one day when four guys she barely knew asked her if she wanted to go to Garrard County with them to buy some drugs; she got in the car with these almost completed strangers.  When they arrived at the “dope man’s” house, she realized they were going to leave her there in exchange for drugs.  She stayed with this man for 2 days and experienced her first overdose.  She overdosed a second time in a gas station bathroom where she passed out and was found by the police. 
She met her current husband who was a hard working, non-drug using person.  She was very upfront with him about her drug addiction.  In the beginning of their relationship she would steal money from him.  He continually tried to get her into treatment and when they found out she was pregnant she made her first appointment with NAP.  
Krystal’s decision to enter treatment involved a high level of commitment.  To enter the NAP program as a pregnant woman, she spent approximately a week at UK/Samaritan Hospital where she initiated and stabilized on Methadone and detoxed from other illicit drugs.  Following discharge from the hospital, per protocol, she completed 30 days of residential treatment at the bluegrass.org Schwartz Center program.   For the first 180 days of treatment, she was expected to meet with a therapist weekly, come in regularly to have medication administered, and also participated and complete the PRIDE program. 
Krystal remembers vividly a day when she was at the Schwartz Center.  She was with a group of girls outside smoking; she was looking at them a thinking how rough, foulmouthed and down on life these girls were.  Then it hit her like a ton of bricks “this is what my kids, mom and grandmother see when they look at me.”  This revelation was a big step in making her want to change. 
Krystal became fully invested in her treatment and therapy.  When she was admitted to NAP in 2008, she worked diligently with her the appointed primary therapist. She transferred to Julie Bowers in 2010, a master’s level certified alcohol and drug counselor, and a strong rapport was quickly established.  Krystal was able to realize that she had advocates who wanted her to succeed, where in the past she had seen such figures in her life as barriers preventing her from what she wanted at the time.  It was not uncommon for Krystal to choose, on her own initiative, to “check in” so that she had increased accountability beyond regular urinalysis and sessions.  Not only did Krystal complete the PRIDE program, she chose to stay involved for extra classes because she was experiencing such benefit from the support of peers and the education she was given.  In therapy she learned Dialectical Behavioral skills, and Cognitive Behavior Therapy techniques to begin changing the harmful thinking she had adopted while in active use. 
Krystal is now on the journey of tapering from medication assisted therapy.  Her level of hope for herself and her family is stronger than it has been before.  Julie continues to support her in the journey of recovery and guides her through therapy.  Krystal hopes to eventually enter the field of counseling with a focus on substance dependence so that she can use her experience and education to help others.  In the meantime, she has been an active advocate and living example for how medication assisted therapy can be successful.  Regularly, when she has sessions, she brings her youngest son who is healthy and thriving due to the patient’s decision to seek medicated assisted therapy.  His smile warms the room and his personality is outgoing, friendly and happy.
David Hayden, Regional Director of Substance Abuse at bluegrass.org, explains the vicious cycle of substance abuse and the misconception of addicts.  ‘Basically people start using drugs for one reason, to change the way they feel.  They either want to escape, enhance positive feelings or fit in.  The irony of substance abuse is the very real thing it gives you at the beginning; it takes away at the end.  When people start using, the substance works, it changes the way they feel, it allows them to escape or fit in.  As time passes the substance stops working as effectively as it once did.  The body gets used to the substance and individuals need more and more to experience the same effects.  At this point the body needs it to feel "normal" and the mind needs it to continue to cope with life.  The individual has entered a vicious cycle.  They want to avoid the emotions, or change it, and they need more and more to make this happen.  It takes up more and more of their day, getting the substance, taking it and recovering from the use.  This is the addictive cycle, not a moral one.  The individual is not a bad person, they did not choose this, and it is a result of the substance.  And at the end, the substance stops providing the change of emotions and makes what they were trying to avoid more prominent in their life.  They end up with more and more things to escape from.  The only solution is treatment.” 
Now four  years into treatment, Krystal is doing great.  She will graduate in May with a BA degree in Psychology with an emphasis in substance abuse and treatment.  She married her wonderful boyfriend who has played a big part in her recovery.  Krystal says “for the first time in my life I wake up happy and with a purpose.” She plans on getting her master's degree and pursuing a career in substance abuse treatment.  She works hard to be the best wife, mother and daughter that she can be.  Krystal’s life of drug abuse was a very dark and dangerous existence.  She did not care about living or dying.  Now she feels that she is out of the darkness, at peace and knows she has many reasons to live. 
I would like to thank you Krystal, for being such an engaging, upfront and courageous client. Your story reflects the importance and successes of the continuity of care provided by bluegrass.org programs. 
Stephanie Dean


1351 Newtown Pike
Lexington, KY 40511-1277
859.255.4866 (fax)


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