Meth mom begins anewPublished 5:58pm Sunday, October 21, 2012
Britia Anderson is a mother of two, a Southwestern Michigan College student and works for Woodlands Behavioral Healthcare Network in Cassopolis.
And she spent 11 years addicted to methamphetamine.
Clean for 17 months, the mother of a 13-year-old daughter and a year-old son enrolled in SMC to become an addictions counselor.
“I never looked like a poster meth user — but I was,” Anderson said Friday sharing the League of Women Voters podium at Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve with Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey and state Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph.
Anderson ran away from home at 13, dropped out of school in ninth grade and first tried meth at 19 while working in a trailer factory.
“It’s fast-paced work,” she said. “I didn’t really know what meth was, but I tried it and liked it. As a single mom, it gave me energy. It helped me lose weight and keep my figure. I used meth about a year until I got pregnant with my second child. I moved to Ohio, where I had some family. My second daughter passed away at six months. I started shooting up and didn’t really care what happened to me at that point. Drugs weren’t fun anymore, just a way to get rid of pain.”
About a year later Anderson spent 2 1/2 months in Elkhart County jail. Her 4-year-old daughter lived with her father.
“I started thinking about what a bad mom I was,” she said. “When I got out, I decided not to use drugs anymore. That worked for a year and a half, but I never received any treatment. Then one day I saw a guy at a stoplight I used to use with. We met up at a bar, had a drink and later on that night I was high again for my next six-year run with meth.”
Anderson, then 28, made headlines Nov. 17, 2009, as one of three individuals arrested for a meth operation discovered in the 64000 block of Calvin Center Road.
“I decided while I was in jail I hated meth and everything it did to me, like my daughter taken away,” Anderson said. “I was let out on three years probation. Around July or August, my mom had gotten sick. We had never been close. I ran away at 13 and never went back, but the second time I went to jail, we started talking again. She lived in Wisconsin. They gave her painkillers for cancer, which I started to take because I’m an addict. It wasn’t long again until I was using meth because it’s my drug of choice.” Her mother died Sept. 30, 2010.
“I found out I was pregnant and was not able to quit using,” Anderson said. “I hid my addiction. I gave birth to my son June 15, 2011. He tested positive for methamphetamine and was removed from me at the hospital. That was too much for me. Losing my kids was real painful.”
Anderson was introduced to Cass County Family Treatment Court, an intensive year-long program which “showed me how to be the person I always wanted to be. I got a job, found a house, started college and, two months later, my kids were returned to me. I think the thing I was missing my whole life was the support of treatment. My daughter wanted to be like me,” which made Britia determined to set a better example. “Getting high took away my morals, values and ability to make good choices.”