This is Part 6 of the News Journal’s series on the heroin epidemic and its effects on Clinton County.
WILMINGTON — For two of Wilmington’s residents, living in the Clinton County Homeless Shelter and being addicted to heroin wasn’t rock bottom. It was losing their children shortly after they entered the shelter.
“We already were disappointed that we ended up in the homeless shelter,” said Chad Craycraft. “My pride took a hit, and then the day after we got to the homeless shelter, I got pulled over and caught with drugs with the kids at the bottom stairs in front of the homeless shelter.”
That was Dec. 6. By the 12th, the Craycrafts surrendered their children, Teegan and Titan, after failing a urine test.
It was the lowest point in their lives.
Tiffany said she sat in the car and worried about what would happen if they couldn’t quit. She thought she wouldn’t be able to quit and would lose her children.
“I felt like I had died,” she said. “I literally felt dead. I was numb, I couldn’t focus. I didn’t hear people. I was like a zombie.”
Chad said he thought something might go wrong on the way to JFS, so he threw some heroin he had into a dumpster. After they voluntarily surrendered the children, Chad said they immediately returned to the dumpster, and he stuck the large “dog animal needle” in his jugular vein.
“I honestly didn’t care what happened at that point,” Chad said. “I had just lost my kids because of drugs, and that’s what I went to do not 15 minutes after they were out of sight.”
Now, less than a year later, they have a home. Chad has a job, both are involved in the community and in their church andTeegan and Titan spent the summer going to the fair and the Cincinnati Zoo, among other places.
Both thanked God and the homeless shelter for their recovery.
The shelter helped them change their social network, Tiffany said. Once they left, in March, they were in a new home, in a new neighborhood, and left behind their old way of life.
Insurance and a tax return helped both focus on their recovery, as did the homeless shelter. The shelter allowed them to stay there as long as they received intensive outpatient treatment at Northland Medical Center in Milford.
“It’s like being Superman”
Chad and Tiffany say they were what’s often called “functioning addicts” – they worked, went to church, attended school functions and played a part in their community, all while addicted to heroin.
They would use heroin to get going faster in the morning and to abate withdrawals before going to work or community events so they could appear functional.
“Most people, if you’re not an addict, it would put them in a hospital,” Chad said. “To an addict, you’re not partying, you’re just not literally functioning, like taking something for the flu.”
“You’re not sick,” Tiffany added.
“I used to say it’s like being Superman,” Chad said. “It’s like it’s me times two. Now I feel that way all the time, and I don’t need anything to feel that way.”
Both were using heroin for about eight years between injecting it and snorting it.
Tiffany and Chad used drugs and alcohol to party as early as high school. Chad’s first experience with painkillers was after a high school football injury, and Tiffany began smoking pot and drinking alcohol at 12 years old.
It escalated from pot, painkillers, alcohol and only using them to party to heroin and needing to use drugs to feel normal. Chad even began to deal drugs and worked his way to harder drugs when he’d trade one drug for another.
“It was probably two years of having fun before we woke up and realized we weren’t going to talk to our friends or do anything unless we had something,” Chad said.
Tiffany said she would quit using drugs, without treatment, during her pregnancy.
“I would go nine months knowing that I was growing a baby, but then while you’re having it, you get the epidural, you get narcotics while you’re in there and you get sent home with them,” Tiffany said. “So, I’d be right back where I started.”
The easy life
Both Chad and Tiffany have been sober since Jan. 11. Tiffany said they wanted to feel better so much that they haven’t relapsed and both credit their faith as one of the reasons they’ve succeeded.
“Our accountability partner is God,” Chad said. “To relapse for us would be like turning our back on God, who’s given us everything back that we lost.”
“More than we had before,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany and Chad hope that other addicts will look at their lives and see that it’s easier to live without drugs.
“Living as an addict is hard,” she said. “This is easy – living sober. I don’t wake up every day and before my eyes are open think ‘Do I have something so I can get Teegan ready for school?’
“I never have to think about being sick again,” she said. “Once I had a little bit of this, I knew that I was never going to let go.”
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.