Woman prisoner attributes her motivation to get clean of drugs to the hope given by Proposition 57
I doubt many stop to ponder what types of issues a prisoner might be dealing with during this pandemic. Unless you know someone in prison, why would you? We actually have a lot of the same issues, you and I. Our schools are closed. Our store is out of a lot of things due to supply chain disruption. Many of us can't go to work due to quarantine. We can't have visits with anyone. Many of us are addicts in danger of relapse.
In prison, a lot of things come down to sheer will and how determined you are. Your strength. Strength of mind! I've been down 16 years, since Sept. 2004. I've dealt with ups and downs. In 2013, I transferred here to this prison, the California Institution for Women, located in Corona, California. I was comming up on my 10th year down. I was about to turn 30. I had always envisioned myself out of prison on an appeal or something before I turned 30. So, I began having a breakdown. The realization hit me hard. For the first time in my life, I began using drugs. Until that point, I had only smoked weed and drank alcohol. Truthfully, I did not think I would even like it when I tried meth. Not many people know my story.
Once I began using meth, I no longer felt the weight of my life sentence on my back every day! I could go through my day, high, and feel normal, like I was free. I had just begun an addiction I would now have for the rest of my life. This was life changing. I knew it. For the next year and a half I was on and off of meth, mostly on. Then, something happened that required me to stop and take notice. California voters passed prop 57. This instantly shaved years off of my sentence and allowed me, a lifer, to now earn time off with school, self-help and other programs. I was stunned to now have this feeling, HOPE?
See, I never had any hope. I had planned to die in prison. Now, my freedom is within my reach and it is something I can control, with my behavior!
After careful thought, I knew I had to quit using drugs. I've been clean since. It took me a year to be able to get out of bed and function normal. I still had a long way to go. But this is how I began the journey to where I am now, talking to you, with 68 months clean!!
Up until the pandemic, I went to Narcotics Anonymous meetings every Tuesday evening. It was my duty in the meetings to give out tokens to mark people's clean time. While on lockdown/quarantine for weeks at a time, I've seen what it's truly like to struggle to stay sober. People offering drugs all the time. I turn it down. Even though my addicted mind is trying to tell me to go back and get it. For an addict, the worst possible scenario is to not have any NA/AA meetings to go to. No drug treatment available. Addiction waits for when you're alone or you're stressed. For the first time, I knew my sobriety was in danger and I needed help.
I've had my own back my whole life. So, it's nothing new to me. I've always had to face life alone. I began asking, pleading and begging for access to the drug treatment classes when they opened. I got blown off.
That did not stop me. I kept at it. Sometimes you may have to almost demand help! Finally I got into the drug program. I'm on a M.A.T. program. Medication Assisted Treatment. I've been placed on suboxone. This medication is an opioid blocker and also takes the edge off of cravings. You may have seen the commercial for it on TV. I never envisioned myself in this program. But I needed the help and I was not going to become just another addict who relapsed. I'm proud of my sobriety.
There is something I want more than drugs, my freedom!! As a lifer, I'm up for parole soon. I want the parole board to see they can trust me if they give me my life back. So, when I go through each day here, I see it as an audition. Each choice I make, I pretend it is being seen by my parole board. I act accordingly. This is how I live each day in here. I hold myself to that standard!!