Facing Addiction: Janessa
Thursday, April 06, 2017 10:11 AM
Getting beyond the stereotypes of drug addicts, through the people in our community who are in an epic struggle to, as one subject told me, regain their humanity. Janessa, 27, has stepped up bravely and selflessly to share her journey.
Janessa, right, arranged for Nonie (who is not an addict) to have a beauty makeover for her high school prom. All afternoon Janessa was restless with excitement to see the results. After a flurry of text messaging back and forth about Nonie's time of arrival, Nonie finally walked through the door of the homeless shelter where both women live and where Janessa was standing, arms outstretched, to wrap her in a hug. “How do you feel?” Janessa asked. “I feel beautiful,” Nonie said.
Patrisha McLean is teaching The Art of Photographing Children at the Maine Media Workshops June 3 and 4. Her photographs will be exhibited at the Camden Public Library in June, with a reception and talk on June 15 at 7 p.m.
I used to mix my [step]dad’s drinks. Whiskey and Sprite, three or four ice cubes, two fingers high, in a Mickey Mouse glass from McDonald’s.
I started with taking sips from his. Then it turned into vodka, taking it out of the cabinet, bringing it to school and mixing it with orange juice. Me and my girls would end up drunk by lunchtime.
I would steal Adderall from my mom because my brothers were on it, or my mom’s Vicodin. I loved the way it made me feel. I felt numb.
I hung out with people that all they did was use, then I started dating somebody that was into drugs and drinking a lot, so that progressed even more.
Right after I turned 21, I stopped drinking and then all of a sudden I couldn’t not drink. I was working full-time as a certified nursing assistant and I’d put my scrubs on, hit the store at 5:15 in the morning and buy three little nip shots of whiskey and an energy drink and drink those, and as soon as I got off work I would stop at the first store on my way home and buy four or five of those shots and by the time I got home I would have my bottle at the house. I would only be home for half an hour and would be passed out.
I started going to OxyContin, 30 milligram tablets, snorting them. My body got so immune I ended up using needles and that was when I got introduced to heroin. I was 23.
The first time I did heroin, I snorted it and didn’t think too much of it. The second time my friend told me to shoot it and all of a sudden my head got super light, my ears were ringing, but it felt great, like I was floating.
I always said I would never do hard drugs and as soon as I tried it, it was over. I would take off in the morning and be on the hunt for drugs all day, staying up for multiple days at a time. Heroin, cocaine and OxyContin. I would steal from anyone I could to pay for them.
I had no vehicle, nowhere to live, was staying in a storage container out behind my uncle’s garage, there was no heat, and I didn’t know if I was going to eat. And I told my brother I was sick of it. He told me what I needed to do and I called somebody and asked for help. That was the day I started my journey, August 30 of 2016.
It was non-medicated, assisted therapy. I want people to know that there is a way out.
I don’t drive, I don’t have a job, I owe a lot of money in fines and back child support. If you look at me on paper you would think I was a pile of s—. But even in just six months of recovery I have gained so much back. I’ve gained myself back.
I didn’t used to care what I did to anyone, how much I hurt anyone. My mom has gone through hell with me. She has my five-year-old son because I would not stop using and drinking. And I am grateful for that today. Before, I hated my mother for it. Now, I call and ask her how she’s doing instead of trying to get something from her.
There are a lot of caring people around me and they are showing me how to be loving and caring towards others. I have amazing case workers [at the Hospitality House homeless shelter] who understand me and they are there to help me, even if it’s just teaching me how to cook normally, or do my laundry.
Now, I wake up and I can see the sunlight. And I love helping others. Nonie didn’t want to go to her prom, ’cause she didn’t have anything to wear. One of the staff members got her a dress and pair of shoes. I told her I’d do her hair and nails. I asked one of my friends who works at a beauty salon if I could borrow a curling iron and told her what I was doing, and my friend told me to have Nonie there that day and she was going to have her hair, nails, and makeup done.
Nonie was so grateful for something so small and it made me feel so great.
I can’t guarantee that I will be sober forever. All I can do is try to be sober for the day, and try to do the next right thing.
Non-medicated assisted therapy includes such programs as Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. Medicated (Suboxone) therapy can be accessed locally through the services of Dr. Ira Mandel and the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition. To volunteer or contribute much-needed funds to the Hospitality Homeless Shelter, call 593-8151.