Former meth addict's struggle with relapse shows challenges in fight against drug
Mlive.com, June 26, 2013
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Amy Reed's journey with methamphetamine is a microcosm of the region's struggle with the drug: It's not a problem easily conquered.
Reed was profiled in 2005 by the Kalamazoo Gazette in its series "The Menace of Meth," the newspaper's first comprehensive look at the drug that was just beginning to wreak havoc on the region.
At the time of that profile, Reed was confident she had conquered an addiction to methamphetamine that had affected her whole family. Her future seemed bright.
"Getting busted was God's way of saving our family," she said at the time. “We’re all clean now.”
Back in 2005, state and local authorities were optimistic, too, that they had caught a problem at its onset, and taken steps to stop its progression. New state and federal laws were enacted to curb access to meth's ingredients and to better protect the community from the collateral damage of meth-related activities.
Kalamazoo County has kept an ongoing list of meth-contaminated housing, for instance, to protect future renters and buyers. The county has a drug court now, too, that includes programs for methamphetamine addicts. Other Southwest Michigan counties have set up treatment programs, and representative from state and local agencies say they know better now how to intervene and help families struggling with methamphetamine-related issues.
As part of the series this week examining the ongoing problem of meth in Southwest Michigan, MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette contacted Reed for an update on how things worked out for her, personally.
Her journey illustrates just how tough the meth battles ahead may be for individuals and communities in which they live.
Here's what she said:
"After doing the (2005) article, I maintained sobriety for six years. Now looking back, that's all that I was doing. I was a dry addict," she said.
"I thought I had it all figured out, but in reality I was only fooling myself. I stopped attending NA meetings after a couple years of sobriety and thought I was cured. Boy, was I wrong.
"I relapsed in May of 2009 and it didn't take me long and I picked up right where I had left off all those years ago. This time, it didn't take me long before my world started crumbling around me. Everything I had worked for during my sobriety was gone.
"Within a year's time I had obtained a meth charge and was faced with the loss of my two daughters. This was something I had never experienced before. The worst part was that my oldest daughter Taylor had to go through all this once again by watching her mother's addiction take over our life. It was even worse because she was old enough to know something was very wrong with me.
"My parental rights were taken away on Aug. 13. 2010 and that was the day my life changed for the worse, and also for the better. Aug. 13, 2010 is my new sobriety birthday.
"I began going to recovery meetings and I also was faced with the new meth charge. I was so worried that this was it, my kids were gone and I was going to prison. I sought guidance from Dave Nightingale, pastor of Emmaus Road Bible Church and an old friend. He helped me so much through my darkest days. I regained a relationship with my Lord and Savior and began a daily routine of sobriety and recovery meetings.
"Pastor Dave met with me several times a week and we talked over coffee, he was so great and held me accountable. I was blessed by Detective Taylor (Bonovitz, Michigan State Police) and he helped me get into the Allegan County Meth Diversion Program by making a recommendation to the prosecuting office.
"I entered the program in March 2011 and that program totally changed my life. I got custody of my girls back. I got my own place and I now attend KVCC.
"I am in the transfer program and working toward my social work degree. I am currently in my 5th semester and I have a 3.2 GPA.
"This time around things are so different. I am sober today because I want to be. I want so much out of life and I have so many dreams. I have accomplished so much more than I ever thought I could. I also recently graduated from the Meth Diversion program in March of this year. I am finally the woman I always wanted to be but never thought I could be.
"The only concern I have for the future (although I know its all in God's hands) is that I won't be able to put my degree to good use when I graduate. I know because of my past convictions that it will be hard but NOT impossible.
"Life is challenging and so is recovery but I know the more I put into life the more I get back. Life is all about balance and I will never forget that I am an addict but recovery is possible if you really want it and I have never wanted anything more in my life than just that."
This recent post from Reed's Facebook page speaks to the daily struggle, year after year, that she-- and our communities-- face:
"In recovery there are times we will have to take immediate evasive measures because the enemy will attack out of nowhere, when everything seems to be going great. We need to be alert, watchful and on our guard. Make no mistake about it, the attacks will come. So be ready!!!!!
"So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled." 1 Thessalonians 5:6