Editor’s note: This is the third article in a series about opioid addiction, including personal testimonies, resources and awareness efforts. This article shares the story of a mother who lost her son to an overdose.
Summer Pittman still remembers being a young girl, sitting in the family’s kitchen and watching her daddy cook crack and even then, vowed she would never follow in her father’s footsteps and live the life of an addict.
“I watched my daddy go through addiction, so I grew up with the knowledge that doing drugs was wrong and it could ruin your life,” Pittman said as she began to tell the story of her own personal experience with drugs.
Pittman grew up in Salemburg, and as a child, says her father would often take her with him to drug deals. Her mother, she said, knew her father was using, but never knew he was taking his daughter with him to buy drugs.
“In 2006, my father got clean, but in 2007, he died of kidney cancer,” Pittman said.
After watching her father fight addiction, Pittman said she knew the life of drugs was one she didn’t want to be a part of, and all through high school never tried any type of drug. It wasn’t until she was 19 years old that she first tried marijuana, and only with the coaxing from friends did she decide to try it then.
Pittman says she was in an unhealthy relationship with her high school crush, but it was the type of relationship that seemed normal to her after growing up and watching her parents argue.
“I just never knew who I wanted to be, so I got involved with the wrong crowd,” Pittman explained.
At first, the drug use was an occasional joint to relieve stress and ease anxiety. Pittman said her friends were telling her that a joint would make her feel better, but the occasional use eventually lead to daily use. At the time, Pittman was also taking prescription medication for depression and anxiety.
“Then someone told me that I could snort Xanax and Percocet and get the same effect faster and it would make me feel better,” Pittman explained.
Two months after trying marijuana for the first time, the drug use escalated and Pittman says she was snorting pills at least twice a day. One day, the pills were no longer enough, and with encouragement from a friend, Pittman says she tried cocaine for the first time.
“Once I did the first line of cocaine, I didn’t care about the pills anymore,” she said. “I did whatever I had to do to get my next fix. I was just so dependent on getting high.”
Then, there was the first overdose. Pittman says she was at a friend’s house and they smoked marijuana, snorted some pills, cocaine and more pills. Eventually, she passed out and when she woke up the next day, she was in the police department being questioned about an accident.
“I don’t remember anything,” Pittman said. “Apparently she was hungry and we went to get food and she blacked out and wrecked. I didn’t have my seat belt on and I hit my head. Between the amount of drugs in my system and the hit to my head, I should have been dead. But I wasn’t.”
While the incident was scary, it didn’t stop Pittman from using, but instead, sent her into a downward spiral because she felt invincible.
“It’s scary that you are so doped up that you don’t remember what almost took your life,” Pittman admits.
So deep in her addiction, Pittman says she would leave and stay gone for days. The only time she would come home was to get more money to buy more drugs.
“My mom was not aware that I was using to the extent that I was,” Pittman said.
The second time she overdosed, Pittman says she was in an abandoned house and spent two days using a copious amount of drugs. By this time, she had begun to sell drugs and use the money she made to support her own habit.
“If I couldn’t get cocaine, I bought pills. If I couldn’t get pills, I used marijuana.”
After spending two days in Sampson Regional Medical Center, she was sent to Southeastern in Lumberton, but didn’t start to experience withdrawals until one week after leaving the hospital. While in treatment, she said she quickly learned that if you wanted something, there were ways to get it.
“You can’t go into recovery and get clean if all you hear is how bad others want to get high,” Pittman said.
By the end of her using, Pittman says she was smoking four blunts, snorting 40-50 mgs of Percocet and six lines of cocaine each day.
Eventually, Pittman says she grew tired of depending on drugs and not knowing who she was. On March 27, 2016, Easter Sunday, Pittman attended a church service, where she says she spent 30 minutes on the altar leaving the life of drugs behind. She also began attending Celebrate Recovery, a program designed to help those who are in any type of recovery, not just drugs.
“There was a lot that led me into my addiction,” Pittman said. “I began spending time in God’s word and discovered what he intended for my life to be.”
Rehab and other 12-step programs didn’t work for Pittman, but starting fresh with new friends and submerged into a life serving God did.
“I have the insight that this not only ruined my life, but my family’s life,” Pittman shared. “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Celebrate Recovery.”
Today, Pittman is attending school online and working to obtain her bachelor’s degree in substance abuse counseling.
“I spent a lot of my life hating who I was,” Pittman said. “Because of God, I can finally love who I am.”
Next month, Pittman will celebrate one year of being clean.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.