Looking back, thinking forward

By Nikki Blankenship - nblankenship@aimmediamidwest.com

Editor’s note: The identity of the individual presented in the following story is being concealed due to information disclosed about his drug abuse.

When addiction takes hold of a person, that addiction, more often than not, proves to be a strong one.

However, when it finds its way into a relationship, it’s even stronger. For Shane, 35, of Portsmouth, addiction has taken everything from him, including temporarily taking away his girlfriend of 17 years.

Shane was born in Portsmouth, where he lives now, but grew up in Kentucky. Growing up, drugs were readily available.

“Dad sold pot from what I remember,” he stated. “That was part of life.”

Shane’s dad died when he was only seven or eight, but his mom was also selling pot.

“I smoked pot and drank when I could get away with it,” he remembered about his childhood.

He tried to sneak and hide things from his mom until she found out early in his teenage years. At about 14, his mom found out and told Shane that if he was going to be stealing her pot, he should just ask for it. From then on, Shane openly smoked pot and had stared secretly using pills.

“I liked getting high and figured why not try something else,” he commented. “And, I liked them.”

Shane said that when he started using pills, he started with barbiturates.

“Then, it was Lorcets and Percocets,” he stated. “Then, when they stopped working, I stated doing Oxys (OxyContin).”

Shane still continued to hide his addiction, but after several years of aging, he decided he did not care what people thought of him. The pills were quickly becoming a priority.

“I snorted them until I got my first prison number,” he stated. “I shot them a couple times before them, but I was in the closet about it. Some of my friends were shooting, and some weren’t.”

Shane first went to prison in his early 20s. His charge was possession of drugs, and he was incarcerated for 18 months. After prison, his addiction grew.

“Everybody was shooting when I got out,” he stated.

Shane continued to shoot OxyContin for the next three to four years. He was even going to a pill mill doctor, like many people in Scioto County at the time. By this point, Shane was still insecure about the fact that his addiction had turned to a needle addiction.

“I was still kind of in the closet about shooting dope,” he said.

It was not until he started visiting pill mills that he started being honest about his intravenous drug use. Then, he went to prison again in 2010 for three years, again for possession. When he got out, OxyContin was scarce.

“There is no OxyContin now,” he stated.

It was the Oxy recession that sent many people to heroin. For Shane, one taste of heroin was all it took.

“I fell in love with it,” he stated. “I found out that heroin worked better than Oxys.”

Throughout most of his addiction, Shane was not alone. His girlfriend of 17 years has been by his side throughout nearly two decades of prison sentences and watching her boyfriend betray her with an opiate mistress.

At one point, Shane’s girlfriend even threatened to leave him if he did not stop using. He told her to go.

“I was happy,” he said.

Though she was not using when the two met, Shane’s girlfriend did start using with him, something he feel some responsibility for.

“She was going down that road anyway. She just met me,” he said.

Heroin made him feel happy, but it was also taking everything he had.

“I’ve lost cars, trucks, houses, four-wheelers, jobs, a lot. Add that time up I’ve done. I’ve lost that. I’ve been with the same woman 17 years. She’s lost that time,” Shane explained. “I’m nearly 40 years old. I’m tired of being in prison. I’m tired of losing everything. I’m tired of Portsmouth.”

Today, Shane and his girlfriend are both sober, but it takes effort everyday. His girlfriend eventually got her own trafficking charges. She is now living in a sober living facility in Columbus and planning to get an apartment for the two.

For Shane, changing his life and staying sober is something he thinks will be easier out of the area. Though he says things may improve in the area, “It’ll probably get a lot worse before it gets better,” he stated. Addiction has taken enough from him. As he looks around the town and sees that everyone who uses anymore, overdoses, Shane is not willing to stay and see what happens next. No one foresaw that shutting down the pill mills would bring heroin.

Editor’s note: This is the 12th story in a 16-week series on the ongoing opiate epidemic.

By Nikki Blankenship


Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.