Brooklyn Frazie grew up in the rural, rolling hills of Minford on Shumway Hollow just off Swauger Valley. She had a wonderful family and a beautiful childhood. She had a younger sister that was less than a year and a half her junior and also one of her closest friends. Frazie remembers how much she enjoyed school and life in general. The 2000 high school graduate was involved in plenty of extracurricular activities. She played sports, sang in chorus, performed in drama and was even prom queen.
It was a difficult time. Scioto County had been hit with a new drug – prescription pain medication OxyContin – that would lead to an addiction and overdose epidemic like the area had never seen. Old and young alike were hooked. High school kids had gone from experimenting with drug like marijuana to this powerful pharmaceutical that was selling for $1 a milligram on the streets and commonly came in tablets of up to 80 or 160 milligrams.
Frazie watched as her friends and classmates lost their lives chasing a high.
“I thought they looked so stupid,” she stated.
Frazie never did drugs. She saw the people around her get high, turn pale, puke and nod out. She remembers yelling at them and asking them why they would want to look and feel like that.
Even the girl no one expected to get caught up in the downward spiral of addicted despair was not able to elude this powerful drug.
When Frazie was 19, she finally succumbed to a bit a peer pressure. Frazie’s sister and her sister’s boyfriend had Lorcet, a pain pill that Frazie referred to as a “little drug.” The medication was addictive and had a likelihood of abuse but was not the danger of OxyContin. Frazie’s sister and her sister’s boyfriend had been snorting these pills to get high. One day the two walked in, crushed up a pill, divided it into three lines and invited Frazie to snort a line. For the first time in her life, Frazie gave in.
“I thought I was having fun,” she stated.
Afterwards, Frazie would “dabble” in both street drug and pharmaceuticals recreationally.
“I hated speed,” she commented about drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine.
It was not long before she found a drug that she did like, and recreational use would no longer be an option.
One day, Frazie walked into a friend’s house and was offered an 80 milligram OxyContin. She had turned into those friends she remembered from school. She was pale and puking. Frazie remembers driving home high and having to pull over on the side of the curvy wooded road to vomit. However, afterwards she felt like she had never felt before.
“I was immediately hooked,” she explained.
Once Frazie stopped feeling sick, she says she felt better than she ever had in her life. She felt euphoria. Soon, she had to have the drug and would do anything to get it.
“It never feels like it did that first time, so you’re always chasing that high,” she commented.
Soon, however, there was no longer a high at all. She had built up her tolerance and was using as many as five OxyContin 80s or 13 oxycodone 30s (generic form of OxyContin). She had a large daily habit and was stealing, borrowing and chasing her drugs all day everyday just to be able to function.
“It’s like you wake up one morning, and you’re sick,” she stated.
Withdrawals from opiates such as OxyContin include terrible stomach aches, body aches, inability to sleep, vomiting and diarrhea. It was not long before Frazie was using to avoid sickness rather than to get high.
For nine years, Frazie was in and out of jail and on and off probation for her drug-related activities.
“My family would beg me to get help. It felt like every week they were sitting me down for an intervention,” she remembered.
After many deaths and lives ruined, Scioto County stood up to doctors prescribing this vicious drug, shutting down more than 20 pill mills (doctors who unscrupulously prescribed medication in exchange for cash payments). In 2011, in the peak of the community take back, Frazie went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for vacation.
“I took enough pills to get me through the trip,” Frazie explained. “When I got back, you couldn’t find anything.”
Soon OxyContin was nearly impossible to find. Addicts across the area were looking for a way to combat the sickness that was taking hold of them.
For many years, Frazie had been a go to person for drugs. People would call her to find something, and she would ask for some of the drugs as payment.
“That’s how I got a lot of my drugs,” she said.
One day, with no pills to be found, a friend call Frazie asking her if she knew where to get heroin. She can’t recall anyone asking her that prior. She did know where to go, however. The friend said that it was for her boyfriend, and soon the two were on their way to pick some up. Frazie remembers telling her friend that she had never done heroin and did not shoot up, so she did not know how she would use her share. The friend informed her that if it was powder, she could snort it. If it was tar, she would have to take it intravenously. She arrived to discover it was tar. Frazie was afraid of needles.
“I was terrified,” she stated thinking back.
Soon she discovered that her friend had not just been asking for heroin for her boyfriend. She had been asking for herself.
“She was a registered nurse and had been taking needles from the hospital,” Frazie said.
Frazie got in the car with her heroin. The nurse next to her used a spiral car charger for a cell phone to tie off Frazie’s arm. The friend shot the heroin in Frazie’s vein, and once again she found that feeling she had been searching for, that euphoria that had been gone from her life. Heroin had other perks as well.
“Heroin is much cheaper,” she stated. “It was 10 times better of a buzz for 10 times less of a price.”
Frazie was using heroin for three months before she was lost to it.
“I was a different addict,” she commented.
She could not go back to pills and she knew she’d never get the same high again. There was no substitute for heroin. She had to have it at all costs. Even worse, there was never enough. Her addiction had become insatiable.
“This is sick, and it’s scary, but I promise it is true,” she stated as she explained that heroin addicts, herself included, want the best/hardest heroin they can find. The second time she shot up was not like the first. The third was not like the second. By this time, she again was just getting well. Better dope meant a better chance of finding that high she sought. So, if there was a batch in town that was so strong it was overdosing people, that was the heroin she wanted. She did not want to overdose or to die, but getting that buzz was the priority.
Frazie had been in and out of the county jail, but she had never been to prison or rehab. Her addiction was taking her down a road of crime that was foreign to her, however.
In her three months of heroin use, she had written a bad check and taken jewelry from a lady she was babysitting for. The latter was a felony five that landed her again on probation, which meant very little to her. She was still using, failing drug tests and violating probation. She was also given several chances to make better decisions.
She remembers wanting to be happy. Frazie would hear her mom wake up in the mornings singing. She would get so upset that her mom could just wake up that happy without drugs. She knew that there was once a time that she was “normal,” that she could function without the heroin, but she had no idea how to feel that way again.
“It’s a very dark place,” she stressed.
One day, she was sick from withdrawals. Her boyfriend, also sick, was frustrated and demanding a way to get some drugs. Mostly joking, Frazie said the only thing she knew was to rob her dealer. He took her seriously. Soon, they were devising a plan. She knew that her dealer kept her drugs and her money separate. One was usually in her bra. The other was usually in her purse. What she did not know was what was where.
She decided that she would go in to buy something small, just to see where the money and the drugs were. Frazie then went into the woman’s bathroom to shoot her drugs without the watchful eyes of the woman’s two small children, who were growing up in a dope house where their mom sold drugs in front of them, and users were in and out. From the bathroom, Frazie texted her boyfriend to inform him that both money and drugs were in the woman’s purse and to run in an take it. He was then to hide out in the woods until Frazie picked him up, thinking her dealer would not know her involvement. Instead, when he got to the door, he panicked and asked for his girlfriend by name. He did, however, then grab the purse and run.
Frazie’s dealer immediately assumed her involvement and demanded she help her get the money and drugs back. Frazie continued to deny her part in the scheme. Finally, the woman explained that she was calling the police, which she did. Frazie left before they arrived, stating that she was on probation and thought it best not to be there when the police arrived. When she finally got to her sought after booty, it was not what she expected. She had a total of nine oxycodone 30s and two Xanax. She had done all that for so little.
The next day, the woman was contacting Frazie’s mother, who did not know what else to do. She called the police and turned in her own daughter.
“I emotionally destroyed my mother,” Frazie said with a heavy heart.
Just woken up by this drama, Frazie was sick and filthy and bleeding from missing a vein the last time she shot up. She explained that her addiction had taken over so much that most of the time she cared little for her appearance. She was dirty, had messy hair and had not brushed her teeth. She knew her mother had called the police, but it was not until she walked out of her bedroom in this state to a probation officer at the kitchen table that she realized he was there for her. He was placing her under arrest.
“I had a feeling I was not going to be home for a while,” Frazie said.
She asked the officer if she could just clean herself up a bit before he took her and assured him that she would not run. In the valley where her home was nestled, there was little direction in which to run. She actually had no desire to clean up.
“I wanted to go in my room and shoot my dope,” she admitted.
She came back out to go to jail still a mess and in her pajamas.
Robbing her drug dealer landed Frazie with felony-two charges, much more serious than her previous felony five. She was offered a deal to drop the charge to a felony three with three years incarceration – two years in prison with the ability to judicial out in six months followed by time in Star Rehabilitation Center. This was Dec. 28, 2011.
“I rode out the next day and arrived at the hell that is Marysville,” she explained.
At this point, Frazie had already done 109 days in county. She would remain in prison until July 2012, followed by five months in Star. She was incarcerated for 15 months total.
“There is nothing rehabilitating about prison,” she stated.
Frazie says that for the most part, no one mattered in prison. They are a number only. It was so ingrained that she still remembers her number.
“I am inmate No. 82926. That’s what you are in there,” Frazie said.
The experience was humbling, however. Frazie explained that the food was terrible, and inmates were known to put their bodily fluids in it to be consumed. Additionally, she was locked up with rapists, murderers, women who had violently killed their children. She also met women who had been taken from their families and communities, who had lost their freedom for defending themselves from domestic attacks.
Prison took the needle from her arm her by taking her away from her lifestyle and confirming that she did not want to return to this life of incarceration.
“Prison saved me, but Star changed me,” Frazie explained.
In Star, she dealt with the guilt she carried. She learned to change her behaviors and become a better person.
Since getting out of Star, Frazie has completed her probation without any violations. She has also not had a single relapse, a success of only one in 10. She has also since had a son who recently turned one and has discovered a passion for working with others struggling with addiction. She worked as a drug counselor in the community until getting pregnant with her son, but she is excited to return.
“I could never go back to that life,” she said. “I can’t believe I was that person.”
She added that though it has been six years, thoughts of using are still occasionally in her head.
“Mentally, it’s a struggle,” she explained.
Consequently, Frazie believes all rehabilitation centers should also be certified in mental health.
Most importantly, her life is good again. She enjoys her son and family who never gave up on her. And, even though she is not working, she still uses her story and experience to help other addicts.
“I will always be an addict for the rest of my life,” she stated.
Even as an addict, she is able to overcome the urge to use, be a good mother, have relationships with her parents and siblings and sing when she wakes up in the morning.
Editor’s note: This is the second story in a continuous heroin series that will be featured every Friday.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930.