U.S. drug officials estimate that there are 1.5 million regular meth users in this country. Carla George used to be one of them. She’s been clean and sober for nine years, but her life spiraled into chaos before she found successful treatment for her addiction. George now works as a program supervisor with Relief Nursery, in Eugene, that provides early intervention for children up to the age of 6 who are at risk of abuse.
Radio: Voices from the Front
To get a personal perspective on the meth problem in Oregon, we’ve asked four people who are living and working on the front lines to answer the question:
“If you had the power, what one thing would you change in Oregon to address the meth problem or its consequences here?”
Recovering drug addict who has been clean and sober for nine years.
Voices from the Front Commentaries
- Rita Sullivan — Therapist and director of the nonprofit substance abuse treatment program OnTrack
- Carol Chervenak, M.D. — Medical Director, ABC House
- John Trumbo — Sheriff, Umatilla County
Carla George — Recovering drug addict who has been clean and sober for nine years.
Share your ideas and solutions to the meth problem in Oregon.
Transcript: Carla George
When I was growing up I never said, “I want to be a junkie.” I wanted to be a nurse, and I wanted to be a good mom.
I grew up in a low-income family. My dad was an alcoholic, and while my mother didn’t use, she had to work hard at two jobs just to bring in income. I was also sexually abused as a kid, not by anybody in my home, but by people in my family. I was 5 years old the first time somebody got me drunk, because they thought it would be funny to watch me. By the time I was a teenager, I found alcohol and pot.
I got pregnant for the first time at 17 and gave birth to a healthy son. He was my pride and joy until I found meth. My first husband introduced me to the drug. Our marriage was great until we started using. At first, it was like a dream come true — I lost weight, I had energy to get the house cleaned — it was no big deal. Then I started using more and more. Once I started using intravenously, things really turned upside down. My husband started abusing me, and soon we were abusing each other, physically and emotionally because of the meth. We separated, and then I met another man — my future abuser, dealer and the father of my two daughters.
Everything in our lives revolved around meth. That’s how we made our money. I used meth while I was pregnant with both of my daughters. I had tried several times to quit: I tried moving. I tried outpatient treatment. But nothing worked. For the next 12 years of my addiction, my life was insane. I left my children with unsafe people, committed crimes. My children watched me get arrested. I went to the county jail 42 times for short stays.
I finally realized the only way I was going to get clean was to enter inpatient treatment. A judge was about to sentence me to six months in prison, but I asked him to give me more time — a year — so that I could do this. He agreed, and I spent the next nine months in a state prison. What a gift that was, to be away from the people I knew to get my head somewhat straight. Entering the back door of the prison was such a reality check on where my life had taken me, and this was only the beginning — what had I done to my children? How was I going to parent, get a job, become a successful member of society? How would I fix all this damage I had done?
Once I graduated from treatment I went to a transitional housing program and I joined any self-help program I could. I became a member of a 12-step program, attended parenting classes and one-on-one counseling. After I got my children back, they didn’t want to come and live with me because they didn’t trust me (for good reason). However, I have shown them over time that I am a good mom.
The one thing I think can help our state turn the corner on meth addiction is more treatment programs and recovery support services. True meth addicts need long-term treatment to be able to address all the things an addict has to figure out.
I’ve been clean and sober for nine years. It is a blessing to have my children back in my life, and I don’t take anything for granted.
- Stats on Meth
- Fifty percent of the children in foster care in Oregon are there because of meth.
- Source: Oregon Dept. of Human Services
Meth in Oregon: How and why Oregon has become a key front in the fight against meth.
- More from OPB Radio:
- Governor Signs Anti-Meth Legislation Into Law (8/16/05)
- Oregon to Have Nation's Toughest Anti-Meth Law (8/1/05)
- Oregon Senate Concerned About Federal Combat Meth Act (7/27/05)
- House Votes to Make Pseudoephedrine Prescription-Only (7/20/05)
- Momentum to Ban Hard Tablets Used to Make Meth (6/1/05)
- Oregon Territory: Methamphetamine Epidemic (1/28/05)
- Recovering Addicts on What to Do About Meth (1/25/05)