Overcoming Addiction: Meth

Every year hundreds of people die from meth.  Texoma knows the impact of the dangerous drug.  Authorities are constantly making meth busts and just a few weeks ago almost a dozen individuals were arrested on a smurfing case.  Federal estimates say meth has 1.5 million regular users.

Newschannel 6 is sharing two stories from former meth addicts; their trials and tribulations and how both walks of life were able to overcome their addiction.

Tommy Stewart and Janet Riley are wonderful people who from the looks of it lead a normal life, while that is true now, just as little as two years ago their lives weren't what we consider normal.

They were entangled with drugs and alcohol and their methamphetamine use took them down a treacherous path that they will never forget but always regret.

"When I was three weeks old I got burnt, I was in a fire and I had 21 operations growing up," said former meth addict, Janet Riley.

She believes that is when her testimony began.  At age 12 when other young girls were out playing with one another she ventured into the world or drugs, first smoking pot, two years later shooting up meth.

"For me it was a way to hide, hide from my true feelings as far as being hurt or feeling it took all that away," she said.

Janet continued with her drug use, doing it every single day.  Soon enough the troubled teenager turned into a wearisome woman who was in out of jail.  She could hardly maintain a job or even a home, still it wasn't enough to get her to stop smoking the drug that produces a four to eight hour high and an equally impressive low.

"It starts out a good thing.  Then it just destroys everything, it destroys who you are who you're supposed to become, it destroys your family."

She says she lied, she stole, and she led a life she wasn't proud of.  Three marriages crumbled before her eyes and soon law enforcement caught up with her illegal ways and she was thrown behind bars.  That's when she met a Gideon who introduced her to Carol Moreno with the Genesis Program at Faith Mission, slowly her life started changing.

Janet joined the group in July of 2009, the entire year she dedicated it to the program and their daily bible readings.  She credits the program and her faith in Jesus Christ to her now two year clean and sober lifestyle that keeps her looking at all things positive.

"He is a God of second chances.  Can't wait for the future can't wait to see what he holds for me," she said.

"I went through two treatment centers and then through this program here at the Helen Farabee Center twice," said Tommy Stewart.

Similar to Janet, Tommy Stewart was a meth addict.  His first run in with the deadly drug, at just 14-years-old.

"I liked it.  I had a lot of friends that was in it also, that was part of my teenage years," he said.

His teenage years flew by so fast because his dependency with meth took so much of his life and health away, but the experience he felt from every hit wasn't enough to stop, it only pressured him in to doing more.

"I felt like a million dollars but as you go on, you just get high to try to feel normal or what you
think is normal."

After high school ended he continued using the drug, every day, twice a day even, spending so much money on it that he lost a couple of houses.  The thought of being an addict still didn't settle in his mind.

Tommy eventually married a woman who never touched any drugs, still she stayed with him through his difficult ordeal -- always hoping he would change.  His wife couldn't change him, the disease of addiction had a hold on him and he wasn't about to let go, so 26 years in to their marriage they divorced, the children now live with his ex-wife.  

"I took away from their life and mine.  I was going out to leave when I should have been going out to play with them," he said.

Years followed and he still got high, and like Janet law enforcement caught up with him, he was locked up inside a jail cell and those lonely nights led him to believe that maybe there was a way out.

"That first treatment center was just for show, I was just trying to get out of trouble I wasn't trying to get clean."

For the second treatment he was trying to get clean.  He enrolled at the Helen Farabee Center and underwent months of treatment for his meth addiction.

"They taught me here it was because I didn't like the way I felt.  I had to change the way I felt and I've come to believe that," said Stewart.

Marcy Thomas is a program administrator at the Helen Farabee Center.  Behind alcohol she says meth sits at the top of the list for those seeking help.  She's seen first hand the ease at which it destroys a life and the criminal lifestyle it promotes.

"A lot of people manipulate their family to get money out of them, they spend money that should have paid the rent, they should of bought food with," said Thomas.

To inform meth addicts on how to move past the deadly drug the center teaches them coping mechanisms to fill the void it left, still it takes more than that to follow through.

"You give people all that information but unless they put that into practice when they leave here the impact is minimal," she said.

Today Tommy and Janet both realize they have a choice against this drug and they choose not to do it.  One found a way out through faith, the other through treatment, and the road to their sober lifestyle has not been easy, but for any meth user who wants to quit, through their stories you can see meth is not a death sentence.

"If I can do it anybody can.  I promise you, I did it for 30 something years," said Stewart, who has now been clean for a few years.

The drug is associated with numerous physical problems including rapid heart rate increased blood pressure and damage to blood vessels in the brain that can lead to stroke.

In Wichita County it is believed that 70 percent of all crime is somehow associated with meth.

Crystal Hall Newschannel 6.