Drug abuse cost is high
CANTON — Drug abuse is killing the next generation and it’s killing Haywood County’s future, said Jean Parris, and that’s why she is driven to make people take notice and take action against the problem.
“This isn’t the OK Corral, this isn’t New York City but we had three shootings in the town of Canton last year and all were drug related,” said Parris. When a friend’s son was one of those killed in a shooting, Parris began organizing meetings in the Canton area. The next “Drugs in the Our Midst” meeting is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 16 at Pinnacle Church.
One speaker at the meeting will be Crystal Mehaffey, a recovering drug addict, who will tell her story. Mehaffey was 17 when she first started taking drugs.
“I got some pain pills from my boyfriend’s family members,” she said. “They didn’t keep Midol or Tylenol, they had Vicodin. It’s just what they used in their house for pain.”
Mehaffey, 26, said she went through bouts of abuse alternating with times of sobriety. She and her boyfriend, Trey, were married and had two children. Her heaviest drug use began after her two boys were born.
“My body just got used to it, and I had a higher tolerance,” she said, so the addiction just kept growing.
Besides pills, Mehaffey has also snorted, smoked and shot up drugs.
“I was shooting up two, three, four and five times a day with Fentanyl. I dug needles out of trash cans and used them,” she said. She now has Hepatitis C because of it but she does not have HIV/AIDS.
Then the high prices of drug addiction began cashing in. In August of last year, a friend overdosed at her home, an investigation was started and her children were removed from the home. They were placed with her parents and sister and have been there ever since. Mehaffey went clean in January and entered an intensive outpatient treatment center.
“Me and Trey were supposed to be working to get the kids back,” she said.
On Feb. 24 of this year Trey died in a meth overdose.
“I’ve relapsed one time since Trey died,” Mehaffey said but she’s been clean for six months. Although she’s been clean for six months before, she’s determined to stay clean this time.
“The drugs finally took something from me that I could truly not get back,” she said.
And the toll isn’t only on the addict.
“The things you go through, it affects everybody,” said Paige Ramsey, Mahaffey’s younger sister. Ramsey is now helping their parents raise her sister’s two sons, ages 6 and 3.
“It’s unbelievable what it does to you,” she said.
In a strange way, however, Ramsey said her sister’s addiction has saved her from using drugs. She saw what was happening to her sister and she knew she didn’t want to go that way.
All three women, Mehaffey, Ramsey and Parris, hope that as many people as possible can come to the Drugs in Our Midst meeting and learn more about addiction and what can be done about it.
“If you can save one person it’s worth it all,” Mehaffey said.
Other speakers at the meeting will be Waynesville Chief of Police Bill Hollingsed, Fred Trantham with Haywood County Schools, DARE Officer Heidi Warren and Officer Bill Wilke, a resident of Canton who works for the Asheville Police Department. Music by Pinnacle’s praise band will begin at 6 p.m. followed by the meeting at 6:30. Pinnacle is located at the end of 101 Fibreville Road, Canton.
The meeting is open to everyone, and it is designed to help people understand, identify and combat addiction. A support group for family and friends of addicts will begin Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at The Community Kitchen in Canton.