One life ruined by heroin abuse
Editor's Note: Fauquier Times reporter Julie Taylor interviewed a woman convicted of dealing heroin, who also struggles with a heroin addiction. The woman agreed to share her story on condition of anonymity.
When she was 16, she had a ready smile and beautiful features. She was outgoing and kind. The science class was difficult for most, but she breezed through. She comes from a respected, middle class family from Fauquier County. When I walked into the sheriff's office to interview the convicted dealer, I was shocked to recognize her.Time has changed her. She has a scar on her face and a few blemishes on once porcelain skin. The main difference, though, is her voice: she speaks more slowly now. Not like she's calculating her words carefully, but like she has to make an extra effort to produce a coherent thought.
She has multiple felonies plus a misdemeanor, and will probably spend close to a year in jail. This is how she got there:
"It really started with the guy I was dating," she said.
She was 21 when she started to notice he was sneaking around, then discovered that he was secretly taking heroin.
"After we had been together a year, I found out he had been doing it behind my back," she said.
When she asked him to stop, he continued in private. She didn't want that, so she began to do it as well.
"I snorted it for the first two or three years. I didn't want to take that step – once you start shooting it you don't go back to snorting it. It's never the same high," she said.
The two created a moderate empire in Fauquier, selling to support their costly habit.
To avoid going into withdrawal, she needed two grams a day, at $140 a gram.
At the peak of her heroin sales, she would meet with 20 people a day. She said most of her customers personally required a gram a day, but some would buy more so they could distribute.
"People would come to our house," she said. "A lot of times we would send people out to meet each other. You tried to change [the location] as much as possible."
She said during drug runs the scariest part was that her boyfriend would make her hold the stash.
Others found it harder to keep up financially, "People with no money just trying to give you guns or clothes or something ridiculous," she said.
"Selling it supported my habit," she said. "Until things didn't work out." Then she would head to the pawn shop.
Over the years she left her boyfriend, met a new boyfriend (through a drug-related call), and lost her mother―something that sent her addiction into an even deeper spiral.
"I blame myself. I'd been clean for a year and a half before my mom passed away, but after that things got really bad," she said.
"The worst thing is you get high, and you love it, and you want to keep doing it. You get so sick. It's the worst flu you could ever experience,"
She said the worst part of the withdrawal lasts three or four days. The worst part about the addiction is the memory problems.
"The past six years of my life have been a real big blur," she said. "I see people that know me and I have no clue who they are. When [my boyfriend] talks about the house in. . ., I don't even remember living there."
"When you use heroin you don't remember what you're doing. You'll be so high you'll be falling sleep and you don't know what's going on around you," she said. "A lot of people will use it to escape their problems."
She said her dealer was an erratic man in D.C., but she went to him because she could get more for her money.
"The worst part is waiting on somebody. They won't answer the phone. You're worried about cops. Sometimes you're sick."
She said that the she would shoot up "as soon as I could cause I was tired of being sick."
“I always had clean needles; most of the time,” she realized. “But if I didn't have one, I would use someone else's,” she admitted.
Usually she would "do it right in the car as soon as I got it." Her worst experience happened on of these occasions. Anxious for her dealer to hurry up, she was drug sick. It had been hours since her last fix. As soon as the transaction was done, she pulled out her kit containing a spoon, a makeshift tourniquet, a needle, and cotton.
The method that she used so often for so many years would, this time, nearly kill her.
“I woke up and had water all over me. The people I was with said I had OD-ed and my lips turned blue,” she said.
She recalled another event involving an overdose.
“One time me and this guy went to D.C. I had been sober, then I started back again. I meet my dealer and we're sitting in my car and were shooting up.
“I'm shooting up and look over and he's dead. If you hit 'em or smack 'em or punch or do C.P.R. they'll come back. But he's not responding at all. I drag him out of the car and lay him on the sidewalk in D.C.
“A guy walking by asks, 'do you want me to call 911?' The drug addict in me said, 'no, wait' cause I didn't want to get caught,” she said.
Eventually though, she realized he wouldn't come back without medical attention.
“I threw the needles in the yard next to us. An ambulance came and shot him with Narcan, which will bring you back to life if you give it to him soon enough.
“The cops asked where we got [the heroin]. I told them it was his. I didn't get in any trouble. Then they had me get the needles out of the people's yard,” she said.
“When somebody hears that someone O.D.'s on heroin, they want that heroin. If somebody dies from it they really want it,” she said.
She said sour milk in her fridge was normal, because when she woke up in the morning, she “wasn't worried about eating, but worried about getting high.”
She's been involved in the drug trade since 2008. She's clean because she's incarcerated. She's been to rehab, and relapsed.
“The whole thing's embarrassing and you don't want your family to know. You think nobody knows but everybody knows. Your family can tell if you're on drugs,” she said.
“The lifestyle was horrible. It really affects your responsibilities. If you're sick you're not going to make it to work that day. The thing I hated was having to go to D.C. [for more heroin] then have dinner with my family that night,” she said. "Every day you have to come up with an excuse where you're going."
“Well, not everyday; after a while people just don't care what you're doing. [My family] just doesn't understand why I couldn't just stop. My dad won't come to see me in jail. My family is just done with it. I got to the point where I didn't care if I died. I had all these friends before drugs, then they all disappeared. Now its acquaintances. They come and go--have you drive them somewhere, get them high,” she said.
She is currently taking Cyboxin to ease the withdrawal symptoms while she is incarcerated. She abhors the lifestyle over the last six years, and hopes to not fall back into it after she is released.
“I want to start fresh and start over. Get a good job and my own place. I would like to go back to school. I want to be an accountant, cause I'm good with numbers,” she said.
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