Faces of Recovery: Jamie’s Story
This week’s edition of Faces of Recovery, in which we highlight local individuals who have overcome addiction, focuses on Middlesboro resident Jamie Mason.
According to Jamie Mason, her home life as a child was fraught with turmoil that included abuse and drug use. She would witness spousal abuse, and she remembers many people always being at her house where drugs and alcohol were consumed.
“It was normal to me,” she said.
Mason’s parents separated when she was five years old, leaving herself and her brother with their father.
“I hated the smell of alcohol on someone’s breath and vowed that I’d never drink or act the way those people did,” she said.
In the fourth grade, Mason went to live with her mother, who was still using narcotics.
“Life was hard with new men in and out of the house and more domestic violence and abuse. I went to live with my aunt and uncle as a teen and finally was able to escape the hurt and fear. They had older children that drank and smoked marijuana. That’s when I started smoking marijuana. I felt safe, and I felt like I fit in for once in my life,” said Mason.
During her early teen years, Mason would party with her sibling and cousins, all the while her troubled upbringing was playing havoc on her mental health. She was hospitalized after a suicide attempt and was put in a foster home at the age of 16 to keep her away “from the people who tried to take me back.”
Mason thought that if she got married, she could be free of her abusers and have a clean slate. Her husband was abusive, and after that relationship ended, another one was entered that also ended up being abusive.
It was during this period that Mason stated her cycle of self-destruction began.
Mason would drink often and heavily, so much so she would often black out. She became pregnant at 17 and stopped the drinking while pregnant. She was married again, and after the baby was born, she continued drinking but not as heavily. She had however, fallen into a cycle of abusive relationships.
By the age of 23 Mason had four daughters. She said during this time, she would use occasionally but only became addicted after her youngest was born. Mason had her Fallopian tubes tied, and that was when she spiraled. Her doctor had prescribed her Percocet and she traded them for tramadol from her brother, because she did not want to get addicted to the Percocet.
“When I took it, it gave me that warm fuzzy feeling. I felt free of pain, free of everything. It was like a miracle cure for everything. I kept taking them because I thought they were safe. I was so wrong,” she said.
Mason became addicted to the pain meds and in 2011 she lost custody of her children.
“Realizing that was my fault and realizing I had failed my children was the biggest heartbreak I’d ever felt.”
After losing custody, Mason began going harder on the drugs. She started using morphine and other drugs to become as numb as possible. This led to shoplifting, lying and manipulation to score more drugs.
Mason hit rock bottom while serving a stint in jail with no contact with her children or anyone else. She had to confront her problems with a sober mind. After she was released, she went to a recovery center in Harlan. She stated her time in recovery was difficult, but she was able to reconcile with her past and learn how to overcome her troubles.
Mason is now over two years clean with a loving husband, a good job and joint custody of her children.
“Today I know how to cope with life experiences and changes and I know I never have to use ever again.”