Journey from prison to sobriety: How this Kansas woman fought against opioid addiction
Opioid Addiction Sober Tales Nov 06, 2017
Journey from prison to sobriety: How this Kansas woman fought against opioid addiction

Not many of those incarcerated for possessing controlled substances or drug addiction-related problems show resilience in overcoming their desires and are successful in gaining a better life afterwards. But Crystal McKellips, 35-year-old woman from Salina, Kansas, has experienced a change of heart and remained sober for nine years. She recounts her journey after a near fatal encounter with opioids years ago.

McKellips recalls how in 2008, a life-changing event brought about her sober side. While shopping at Walmart, her son discovered that she was not breathing and asked another shopper to call 911. A few hours before the incident, McKellips had overdosed on a fentanyl patch along with some Lortab pills. She was rushed to the Salina Regional Health Center where she spent four days in the intensive care unit. Post treatment, she was charged with possessing fentanyl and placed on Community Corrections-supervised probation. While on probation, she went through severe opioid withdrawal pangs that prompted her to go back to them. Soon, the probation violation became a prison sentence.

McKellips recalls how her addiction started about four years prior to the incident when she was prescribed Lortab for a shoulder injury. To feed her drug cravings, she had been stealing from family members, getting drugs from an addicted nurse through false prescription and buying them from cancer patients. Throughout these years, she kept chasing the feelings of euphoria and energy that the pills gave her while her family continued to suffer. She remembers how her mother and brother had warned her about the times she nearly fell asleep while driving. Her children had to bear her mood swings, excessive sleeping habit, an abusive caregiver and separation anxiety. She tried taking treatment on three previous occasions but was unsuccessful. She was earlier addicted to methamphetamine, which she successfully overcame but found it harder to kick off opioid addiction as she found it to be much more than physical dependence.

Sobriety: A different life

Post the 2008 incident, McKellips spent four months in the County Jail followed by nine months drying out in prison. During the first two weeks of her imprisonment, she was placed in a maximum-security cell where she endured the withdrawal symptoms. During her incarceration, she lost her father and two of her children were temporarily sent for foster care while the third one was taken care of by his father. She calls her 10-year-old son a hero, saying that if it wasn’t him that fateful day, she wouldn’t have been alive.

While in prison, she attended the Church for the first time and began singing in a choir. According to her, “When I got out, God had changed my heart so I wanted a different life. I’ve dealt with it with God. I’ve forgiven myself. My sons have forgiven me, as long as I can continue to walk down the right path.”

Opioids: Addictive and dangerous

Commonly prescribed for chronic pain relief or to ease the pain arising post surgeries, prolonged use of opioids increase the risk of addiction and abuse. Once the user develops the habit, he or she begins to obsessively seek out the opioids despite suffering from relationship, health, financial and behavioral problems.

Considered to be one of the most painful occurrences an individual can ever experience, opioid withdrawal can cause vomiting, gastrointestinal pain, insomnia, anxiety depression and panic attacks. Individuals seeking treatment for opioid addiction should do so under the care of trained medical health care professionals at a certified treatment center.

Hooked Sober is a source of information on drugs, alcohol, eating disorders and mental disorders. Please send your questions, concerns or comments to [email protected] or speak to a representative at 866-838-4087.

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