BEAUMONT, Texas -- From pill to prison; a Southeast Texas mom finds herself hooked on heroin. Now 15 months clean, she's sharing her story, hoping others will understand addiction risks when taking prescription pain pills.
12News digs deeper into the data, revealing how this mom and others struggling with opioid addiction are finding hope, help and recovery from addiction.
More than twenty years ago Charlene Crow reached out to a doctor for help with her nerves.
"I went to a Doctor to get Xanax. And then he gave me pain pills and Xanax," said Crow. "It didn't take long for me to realize I was addicted."
Getting hooked on the opioid-based prescriptions, Crow found herself in a downward spiral.
"The pain pills were getting too expensive and they weren't working anymore the way I wanted them to, so that's when I switched to heroin," said Crow.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains heroin is made out of morphine extracted from poppy seeds. Several other forms of opioids are legal when prescribed by a doctor.
You've probably heard of Oxycontin. Its chemical makeup is almost identical to that of heroin.
Common prescrption pain pills include:
• Oxycodone (OxyContin®)
• Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
• Hydromorphone (Dilaudid®)
• Diphenoxylate (Lomotil®)
• Oxymorphone (Opana®)
• Fentanyl (Duragesic®)
• Propoxyphene (Darvon®)
• Meperidine (Demerol®)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says these pills are often prescribed following surgery an injury, or health conditions like cancer, back pain and osteoarthritis.
On a national level, government reports show drug overdose deaths involving prescription opioid pain relievers have increased dramatically since 1999.
Federal and state efforts have been made to curb this epidemic.
In 2011, the White House even released a response plan for the crisis.
Beaumont police have made a couple of heroin busts over the last few years. They found Dilaudid pills, and black tar heroin in an apartment off Glen Meadow in 2014.
Almost a year ago, BPD found a kilo of heroin, among other drugs, in a vehicle search off Highway 90.
Narcotics officers say heroin is actually very rare in the city but still a very bad drug. They're always on the lookout and feel it's only a matter of time before the substance pops up here.
As opioid addictions increase on a national level, Beaumont has seen an increase in the illegal sale of pills, like Dilaudid.
Crow says she used opioids to escape life by numbing her body and feelings.
"I had been to jail several times, I had been to prison, and I've had CPS involved in my life."
Erica Arabie is a Port Arthur native who struggled with substance abuse for decades, as well.
"I've used everything pretty much," said Arabie. "13 years old I started and of course just little things here and there and the longer I used, the more things I used."
Arabie says she grew up in a household of drug-abusers. Her entire family struggling with some form of addiction. it was the lifestyle she knew.
"[Some addicts use] 30 and 40 pills a day of Lorset and Lortap," explained DeAnn Wills. "And they're running $10 to $11 a pill, so that's a $300 to $400 a day habit. Where you can get the heroin much cheaper and it lasts longer."
Wills is a case manager at Spindletop Center. She works with clients having psychiatric and substance abuse disorders.
She's seen firsthand the increasing use of illegal drugs to feed an opioid addiction.
"Growing up the heroin addict was always some old hippie or something but it's definitely progressed and into younger generations," said Wills. "There were a lot of 19 and 20-year-olds coming in with heroin addiction because of opioids and it was related to an injury where they got addicted."
Arabie says the addiction takes over. It's a disease impacting nearly every part of your life.
"The disease is so much more powerful than the love for your children or your family."
She was able to break the chains of addiction more than 8 years ago.
"I actually had a really bad experience. I'd been really intoxicated and got pulled over by one of our local police officers," said Arabie. "He saved my life. He saved my life the day he pulled me over."
For DeAnn Wills who battled addiction as well earlier in life, it took a bold move by her dad to find the strength to reach out for help.
"It really wasn't until my father said 'call me when you have 6 months sober,' that I really was able to go," said Wills. "I always had my dad there, really I feel I drug him through the ringer. He tried to help me so many times."
For Charlene Crow, she started her new life 15 precious months ago.
"I was tired of living the lifestyle I was living," said Crow. "This time I felt like I was done, I quit fighting and I surrendered to a new way of life."
That new way of life costs hard work and dedication.
"There definitely is a solution," said Wills. "You know there is no cure but there is a solution if you're willing to follow some simple suggestions and get some help."
Arabie said with her role at Spindletop, she gets to share her success with others struggling to find a solution to their addiction.
"I just had to do a lot of things I wasn't comfortable with doing in the beginning because it was totally opposite of what I had lived my whole life," said Arabie. "If you want something different you have to do something different."
Crow also found the support and tools to overcome addiction at Spindletop.
"There is another way of life. We don't have to live in that insanity anymore," said Crow. "There is another way of life and [there are] people that care and are here to help anytime."
The Spindletop Center Substance Abuse treatment programs provide outpatient services. Treatment includes individual, group and family counseling along with aftercare, relapse prevention, education and support groups. Mental health services are offered for the dual diagnosed clients.
ATAR - Addiction Treatment and Recovery
2750 South 8th Street - Building C Beaumont, TX 77701
Phone: (409) 839-1033
Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and evenings
South County A&D Outpatient 3401 - 57th Street Port Arthur, TX 77642
Phone: (409) 813-8340
Monday - Friday 8:00 - 5:00 p.m. and as arranged
Hardin County Substance Abuse - Outpatient Hwy. 96 South Silsbee, TX 77656 Phone: (409) 386-6772
Monday - Friday 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. and as arranged
Tejas A & D - 4305 N. Tejas Parkway Orange, TX 77630 (409) 839-3851
Monday - Friday 8:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Spindletop Center website: http://spindletopcenter.org/