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Conquering Meth Addiction: Carren Clem's Story

How one young woman fought her way back from meth addiction to become a mom and help at-risk teens.
By Carren Clem
WebMD Magazine - Feature

I never expected to become a drug addict. I grew up in rural Montana. My dad worked as a narcotics cop, so my siblings and I knew how bad drugs were. I played violin, had my own pony, did well in school, and went to church.

But in sixth grade, I started having social problems. I was teased and excluded by the other kids, especially girls. When I got to high school, I was determined to make friends, so I jumped at the chance to skip school with an older girl and go to a party at her friend's house. Unfortunately, the friend was an older boy who gave us beer and ended up raping me. To deal with the shame, I started drinking, skipping school, and hanging out with "bad" kids.

The next year, I went to boarding school. But even there, I struggled and eventually was sent home. I took a job working for a local telemarketing company and partied a lot with the other workers. One day one of them offered me a "pick-me-up" because I was tired. As it turned out, the "pick-me-up" was methamphetamine, or "meth." I smoked it all weekend. The high was so intense it was unbelievable. I felt like Superwoman.

Meth Addiction, Meth Recovery

I was hooked right away. In fact, within a week, I was using four or five hits of meth a day to stay high. Within a month, I was arguing with my parents so much I had to move out. I would do anything with anyone to get drugs -- steal car stereos, have sex, whatever. Often when I woke up I didn't know where I was or how I had gotten there.

I hit bottom when I decided I no longer wanted to live. My "friends" tried to help me commit suicide by giving me a huge amount of drugs and alcohol. I didn't die -- but when I woke up I was so sick I finally knew I needed help. I called the youth pastor at our church. He called my parents and they got me into a treatment program.

Today I am clean and sober, but I still have lingering issues. I don't deal with stress well because meth damages parts of the brain. Sometimes I have cravings so strong that it feels like I've used again. But two years after I got out of rehab, I fell in love with a wonderful man, married him, and got pregnant. I consider my daughter my little miracle.

I'm living in Montana and working for a fitness center. I'm involved with the Montana Meth Project, which is devoted to helping kids avoid getting addicted by breaking down their belief that "it won’t happen to me." Parents, you can help by communicating well with your children. What I know now is that you can have everything and then in a moment have nothing. Children who hurt inside make poor choices; you can empower your kids to make good ones.

 

Reviewed on May 28, 2010

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