Woman loses everything to meth addiction
Purdy resident overcoming effects to health, life
At one time in her life, Tracy Writer, of Purdy, had it all — a child, a husband, a home and a job.
"I was working at a nursing home in 2003, and things got really rocky [in my marriage] about then," she said. "Drugs were really bad where I worked. I was around 23 when I went back to using crank."
Writer had not been using drugs since her rebellious teen years, when, at 13 years of age, she would sneak out of her family's house to attend parties where drugs and alcohol were readily available.
"I didn't start using crank until I was about 15," she said. "I'd sneak off to parties and it would be there. I used until I graduated high school. Then I went to cosmetology school, got married and had my first child."
Life continued with some ups and downs, but Writer started feeling a sense of discontent.
"At that point, I'd been married and did not go out with friends," she said. "My husband had his own issues back then, so I made new friends with my co-workers and started hanging out and partying with them on the weekends.
"Our marriage was good for awhile, but then he changed. And, I changed, too. Me working around the people I did caused me to turn into someone I wasn't when we first married. Looking back, I really wish we had tried to work things out."
Writer said she typically combined her meth use with alcohol during those weekend parties, but over time, new elements were added to the mix.
"You'd meet new people, they'd introduce new things, and I started using [oxycontin] with it," she said. "I was using pain pills and meth consistently. A lot of opiate addicts are that way. They'd give me tons of energy and wake me up."
Writer said she lived that lifestyle for more than 10 years, using up to two grams of meth a day, and as many as eight prescription-strength pain pills a day. She was spending up to $100 a day to fund her drug habit.
"My boyfriend at the time was a meth dealer, so we'd just trade drugs," she said. "It got worse the longer I was in it. I hit total rock bottom. I started using Fentanyl patches, heroin, and by the end was using a needle to shoot up all of that stuff. I lost the trust of my kids, I lost my home, I even lived out of my car for a little while. I let it take me down."
Writer was arrested and found herself facing 14 years on two charges, possession of narcotics and possession of methamphetamine and associated paraphernalia.
"I couldn't really do anything," she said. "My parents knew I needed help. I sat in the Barry County Jail, and my cellmate told me to fill out an application for Barry County Drug Court."
Writer was accepted into the 18-month program and did well for the first 11 months.
"I started hanging around the wrong people again," she said. "I relapsed on Fentanyl. Drug Court caught on to it and, I was sent to prison for four months."
There, Writer took part in a mandated treatment program.
"It opened my eyes," she said. "It helped me realize I have a major problem. The treatment process was pretty awesome. I don't think I could have gotten through it without the counselors. They help you accept your own faults, and the program taught me a lot of patience."
Writer said the thought of facing 14 years in prison was terrifying.
"When I first got there, it was hard for me to believe I was actually sitting in prison," she said. "It was unreal to me until it actually happened. Then, I had to face my parents, who are getting older, and realized I needed to straighten up and be there for them and for my kids."
Writer was released back into the Drug Court program with a new mindset.
"It was pretty rough being that far away from family," she said. "I had to look forward to being reunited with my two children with a different attitude. I wasted a lot of my life on that — I wanted to finish the program, progress and actually do something with my life."
After graduating from Drug Court, Writer has taken great pains to avoid stepping back into the lifestyle that sent her spiraling down the path of self-destruction. But, there are temptations.
"I get migraines," she said. "But instead of using pain medications, my doctor has prescribed anti-seizure medications to control the pain. I have had to totally disengage from any of the old crowd. I still get messages from some of them wanting me to come out and party with them, wanting to remember the good times, but there weren't very many of those."
The only former acquaintances she now socializes with are those that have successfully completed Drug Court themselves, and are active in the social events hosted by peer support groups, such as Celebrate Recovery.
"That's pretty cool," she said. "I get to hang out with them at Celebrate Recovery, on movie nights and at other activities. Most of my new friends I've met while in recovery."
Writer said she has been suffering the effects from abusing drugs for more than a decade.
"The worst part of using is what it has done to my health," she said. "I have problems with my speech, what I want to say doesn't come out. And my left leg drags, for some reason. I burned a lot of brain pathways while using. My brain is having to re-route those networks."
Clean since 2015, Writer is now attending Crowder College in Cassville and planning to graduate in 2018.
"I'm studying criminal justice," she said. "I hope to go into probation and parole and help in getting this off the streets, somehow. It terrifies me that my children are growing up where it's so accessible. I just don't want them to go down that path.
"[Drug Court] has helped me grow up and be responsible. I thought that person was long gone. It feels good that I can go out into public now and not feel like people are looking down on me or labeling me like they do when they know someone is using. I'm back in society, and there are a lot of people really supportive of others in recovery. That's not an easy thing to do."
Most of all, Writer is grateful that Drug Court has given her a second chance at life and a career.
"If you complete Drug Court and probation, your record is clean," she said. "That is one of the luxuries of graduating Drug Court. That gives me a lot of hope for the future."