Family Members of Drug Addicts Shoulder Burdens

Drug use of any kind can take a toll on an individual and also their families.  Wichita Falls is no stranger to drug use, some experts even go as far as calling it the meth capital of our region.

According to a national survey on drug use, in 2005 4.3 percent of Americans tried methamphetamine.  Officials believe that number is much higher now.  In Texoma rehab centers, drug counseling services, all those agencies see an overwhelming number of meth users and usually once an addict has reached out for help, they've been using it long enough to heavily damage other members of the family.

Crystal Daniel is the Program Director of Serenity Foundation outpatient services, serving the agency as a drug counselor for nearly a decade.

"Mainly right now I would have to say that the majority of our case load is methamphetamines," said Daniel.

She guides those looking for a way out of a life that has nearly been destroyed by their addiction, calling it a disease.

"The disease it out to kill, steal and destroy,' she said.

Tom Harwell is a licensed professional counselor intern at Serenity House.  "If they're willingly to take some suggestions and do some footwork then they have a chance," said Harwell.  He too serves as a shoulder to lean on for meth users wanting a new start.  Aside from their job both Tom Harwell and Crystal Daniel share a similar past, one neither is proud of.

"I used, abused and subsequently became addicted upon several substances," said Harwell.

Crystal was a former client of Serenity House ten years ago and both her and Tom Harwell were meth addicts.

"I decided instantly that I was hooked and that this substance was the answer to all my problems," said Daniel.

Beginning at the age of 14 and until eight years ago she was high nearly every day.  Before she knew it, she was thrown behind bars.

"I ended up in jail for three months and I found out I was pregnant."

She would later deliver her son at an inpatient facility in Dallas, telling herself her
baby boy was the driving force out of her misery, but not before her meth use made a lasting
impact on her mother.

"I put a heavy burden in her life, we had a really close bond and I ruined that and I
took everything for granted from her."

"Addiction is referred to in many different ways, one of them is it's a family disease," said Harwell, whose downward path led him to divorce and created a rift between his siblings.

"A lot of the family members actually become sort of in more turmoil than even the addict  because they're not the ones that have the numbing going on," he said.

Like Harwell's mother, parents who watch their children suffer from the disease of addiction can do nothing more but take a backseat down a spiraling turn of events that often leads to jail time.  Harwell says that was his motivation to quit

"Once I was incarcerated I was like it's time to stop I'm not doing this anymore."

His mother died in 2005, but he is proud that she lived to see him get clean.

"Life is great, I know it's not paradise, but sometimes I feel like I'm already in paradise."

It's been reported that 50 percent of first time meth users try it again and 75 percent who go for a second round become addicted.

There is help for the addict and the family Al-anon and narconon groups meet in Texoma.  Mothers Against Meth also meets once a month on Mondays.  The group serves as a support team for parents whose children are struggling with meth addiction.  If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, you can contact Serenity House at 940-767-0423.