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Addict ‘not ashamed’ of story

Addict ‘not ashamed’ of story
Addict ‘not ashamed’ of story
Gary Decker, center, leads an impromptu prayer at the conclusion of a May 24 community program in Elizabeth about heroin. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor

This is the first article in a series about substance abuse.
More than 100 people gathered at the South Harrison Community Center in Elizabeth last week to hear about a ‘devil’ that is consuming many people. And, in some cases, it’s taking their lives.
Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye said there were two deaths in the county from heroin overdoses in a 30-day period.
‘It’s more readily available and cheaper’ than previous illegal drugs of choice, he said. ‘This is the devil.’
‘Ten years ago, it was meth,’ the sheriff said. ‘In my opinion, heroin is worse.’
Withdrawing from methamphetamine puts the user in a ‘bad disposition,’ Seelye said. However, detoxing from heroin on one’s own includes the chance of dying from renal failure, he said.
Amanda Ireland shared with the audience, many of whom were former addicts themselves, her story of drug abuse.
Ireland, now 31, said she began using opioids when she was 11 or 12.
‘Parties is where I started,’ said the former Corydon Central High School student.
She eventually had a $300-a-day habit using Oxycontin.
By late 2011/early 2012, Ireland was using heroin. Before 2012 was over, her habit was costing $500 a day.
‘I only cared about getting that fix,’ she said. ‘I’ve done some pretty grimey stuff to get drugs.’
Ireland was arrested for dealing heroin. She described herself as a ‘walking zombie’ while incarcerated, which included three days spent in a padded jail.
After being released, Ireland spent six months in a halfway house. Her addiction caused her to lose custody of her baby.
It took another arrest, in March of this year, for probation violation, before Ireland received the help she needed.
‘I’ve buried three brothers, all who died from drugs,’ Ireland said. ‘I’ve seen so many friends die.’
She credits probation with ‘making sure I’m not stepping one toe out of line.’
‘Today, I’m happy, proud and healthy,’ Ireland said, adding that she wants to help others. ‘Now I can talk to people about it, and I’m not ashamed.’
Besides having a job, she has since regained custody of her daughter, now 5.
‘I don’t want my little girl dealing with the same stuff,’ she said.
Ireland encouraged the parents in the audience to talk to their children.
‘Talk but don’t come off as too aggressive,’ she said, adding that her mom never saw any signs that Ireland was using narcotics.
According to resource information provided by Patty Gregory, who works for Seven Counties Services Inc., warning signs of heroin use include hyperactivity followed by fatigue; irresponsible behavior at work or school; disorientation; lying; wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants, even during warm weather; increased sleeping; slurred speech; track marks on arms and legs; constant runny nose; scabs or bruises; and weight loss.
Gary and Mary Decker, who run a ministry program at the Harrison County Jail, have been credited by Seelye for making a difference in the lives of addicts.
Near the end of the program, organized by Beverly Phipps, Gary Decker led prayer during an impromptu prayer circle that included many of the former users the Deckers have helped.
They also distributed flyers about a program set for June 12 through 15, at 7 each evening at South Harrison Park near Elizabeth. The program is billed as ‘Dead to Dope; Alive to Hope through Christ.’ The public is invited.

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