By Phil Jacobs
I received this email last week in response to our sister publication Ocean City Today’s special report on heroin addiction. Find it at OceanCityToday.net and look for “From high school to heroin.”
“My name is Jayna Griffith, and on October 19, 2012, I was involved in the heroin bust of 1700 bags with Leck Lyons. Your recent (Ocean City Today, April 18) article about the devastation to our community and our young ones by this pernicious drug was very touching and hit particularly close to home. Just one thing that bothered me quite a bit. It says, “there is no cure for heroin addiction”. I would just like to say, that I am living proof that is a false statement. Not only is it false, but it gives every heroin addict out there now, NO HOPE!!!! Addicts already feel bad about themselves enough-it would be nice if they can SEE the light at the end of the tunnel. By this article, they cannot and that is very discouraging. The county has helped in every way possible. I am currently participating in their adult drug court and I have to say, they saved my life. Jail and drug court has done more for me than I could have ever imagined. The cure to heroin addiction is- YOU HAVE TO WANT IT!!!!
Ms. Griffith and her friend Krystyna Strobe visited the Ocean City Today/Bayside Gazette offices on Monday.
Jayna, 28, said that at least for her, jail time and drug court not only has helped her stay clean, but almost certainly she feels saved her life.
She says with a smile that she’s putting much of her energy into working out at an area gym where she’s also employed as an assistant manager. Her goal is to become a personal trainer in the future.
All of this from a young woman who spent eight horrific days in the medical cell of the county jail, sick and scratching her face as her body rebelled against the fact that in this jail, there was no heroin around to medicate it.
She told me that the last thing in her life she could ever imagine growing up in Louisville, Ky., was that she’d become a heroin addict and end up in jail.
“My withdrawal in jail were the worst days of my life.” Now she’s been away from heroin for so long that she feels better than she ever felt while on heroin.
“It took jail to teach me that these decisions are all up to me,” she said. “I never will allow this to happen to me again. I’m just thankful that I am alive and for all the good things that can and will happen.”
She and Krystyna, best friends, encourage one another, and keep an eye on each other. Krystyna has for three years been a server at an area restaurant. She’s been clean for going on a year.
Jayna said “I know where I’ve come from, and I don’t ever want to be a victim to heroin again.”
It’s hope that she wanted to really discuss. In jail, where she met some of the “realist people she’s ever known who didn’t judge me,” she learned how to have hope for a better, productive life. She freely admitted during our interview that staying clean is difficult.
“Recovery,” said Krystyna, who has stayed away from arrests and jail time, “doesn’t happen over night.”
Jayna said that the county’s drug court, which administers regular urinalysis drug screening, but also counseling has been so helpful to her that she’s actually not looking forward to the day she “graduates.” She said she will miss the people and the counseling.
According to its website, the mission of the Worcester County Adult Drug Treatment Court “is to decrease substance abuse and related criminal behavior of non-violent habitual offenders through a comprehensive court-supervised drug treatment program, thereby increasing public safety by helping the participants to lead healthier, productive lives.”
Jayna and Krystyna said they have another motivation for staying clean. They have known or heard about users who have died from an overdose.
“They are dropping like flies,” said Krystyna.
“This is not supposed to be my life,” said Jayna. When she was in the early phases of recovery, the craving, she said was so bad that she found her hand involuntarily going into the motion as if it was injecting a needle.
“I met the best people in jail,” she said. “They are the realist people I’ve ever met. They didn’t judge me.”
The rehabilitation services through Drug Court are “teaching me how to live,” said Jayna. And most importantly, she said, “they don’t treat me like a drug addict.”
Jayna said she is reaching a point where she is no longer afraid of herself using again.
“The cure is not to use that first bag,” she said, “and that comes from inside of you.”
Lastly, though, she said something that defined it all.
“I own my addiction,” she said.
And that approach to life, she said, came from the hope she began to understand through drug court and even after four months and one week in jail.
For her, and she said for others, jail works.
“I do not want to come across as if jail is the only option, because it is not,” said Jayna. “Now if you are too ashamed or too careless or just too scared to grapple with the addiction, then yes, jail is a good reality check. I am a firm believer in every heroin addict does need jail because of what it did for me. But, at the same time, I do not want addicts to think ‘I guess I should keep using until I get in trouble.’ There are ways to be proactive with the addiction. Reaching out to people who you trust and who love you, keeping yourself occupied. Having responsibility will make you feel so good about yourself. There are places you can go, that are waiting there with open arms to tackle your demons with you. Instead of playing victim to heroin, stand up against it and take your life back. Getting clean is so scary at first, and may seem impossible, but embrace that feeling because it is that feeling that will get you through the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. And when it is all over, you will see that a warrior has evolved. There is hope, but you have to want it.”