Talk to someone who's been there

Tad Nelson said looking back, she can see now how sick she looked.

“I didn’t think I had a problem, but then I looked back. I’ve come across some pictures, and I’ve thought, ‘oh my gosh, I looked sick.’ I can only imagine what people thought of me. I didn’t look healthy at all,” said Nelson.

Nelson was 28 years old when she was introduced her to methamphetamines. She said she loved that it made her lose weight.

At first, it was just once every other weekend that she would consume the substance. But that changed. That’s when she got into trouble.

“I was scared, because I had never been to jail before. I was in there a day and a half, and it scared me to death, and I never wanted to go back,” she said.

But she did go back.

“When I went back to jail, I was mad at my probation officer, because I had never had any violations before, but he put me back in jail,” said Nelson.

Going back to jail may have been the best thing that ever happened to her, according to Nelson, who said she graduated from the Roosevelt County drug court program in 2011.

“The day I graduated, I thanked him (her probation officer) for that. The day I got pulled back into Judge (Drew) Tatum’s courtroom, he told me it was like a brick to the face, because he believed in me. I thanked him for that too, because that really had an impact on me.”

Nelson said more than six years later, she still has days where she misses the drug and craves it.

“I may be a little more truthful than I need to be sometimes,” she laughed, “but I don’t ever want to go back to what I was.”

Nelson said she was not able to admit she was a drug addict until she said it out loud to herself.

“When I finally admitted to myself that I was an addict, things changed,” she said. “I was going to AA, but I wouldn’t ever stand up and say, ‘I’m an addict.’ One day, I went in there, and I said, ‘I’m an addict.’ Once I said that, it’s like a weight was lifted.”

Nelson said her mother never gave up on her in her battle against drugs. She came through the drug program with no slip ups, and her mother and three children have been with her every step of the way since then.

“I would lose my kids, and my kids are number one; my kids come before anything and everything (other than God). I couldn’t do that to them, and I couldn’t do that to myself,” Nelson said of what keeps her motivated to stay clean. “It’s not easy; you have to want to quit. If you don’t want to, you don’t quit. My three kids and God are what keep me from doing it.”

Prescription pill abuse is also becoming more and more of a problem across the nation, according to Ruby Garcia, Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (OSAP) coordinator.

One in four people will become addicted to an opioid that was legally prescribed to them, she said.

“The main cause of this drug abuse problem is a person going to a doctor for a legitimate pain. It is not their goal to become addicted. They are just trying to fix a problem. It just needs to be looked more into with who doctors are prescribing meds to. Have you ever had addiction in your family and are you predisposed to becoming addicted?”

Garcia said there is hope that the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program will help. The recently passed state law requires medical providers to look up a patient’s medical history to see if they have recently visited another provider for pain problems and were prescribed anything.

In ninth-12thgraders, Roosevelt County rates at 23.6 percent for marijuana use (25.3 percent for the state), 7.3 percent for methamphetamine use (3.2 percent for the state), while 17.8 percent of Roosevelt County teens are binge drinking (14.6 percent for the state). For adults, opioids, cocaine, methamphetamines and benzodiazepines, the overdose rate is 16.7 percent in Roosevelt County (24.6 percent for the state).

Garcia said although the teen court program is catered to seventh grade and up, in the last two years, the program has seen children as young as 10 years old coming into the program.

“After talking to administrators and teachers, the biggest problem in Roosevelt County is marijuana use,” said Garcia. “I think we also have a big problem with underage drinking in our community.”

As for advice Nelson would give to anyone thinking about trying drugs,

“If you wanna try it, talk to somebody who has been on it and is now clean, because it will mess up your life,” she said.

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