OKLAHOMA - There is a silent epidemic in Oklahoma, and while it is often hidden behind closed doors, the effects can be seen in some of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable – children.
Not only are countless women hooked by the grip of opioid addiction, but their children are often along for the ride as innocent victims.
Down an old renovated hall in the most unlikely of places is a nursery.
It is not where you would typically find one.
A dated rundown building that used to be a nursing home is now nursing a second chance.
"I remember the day, because, I'm really emotional,” recovering addict Courtney Bennett said.
It is giving female addicts another chance at life and giving their children one they may not otherwise have.
"I went and got on the state waiting list and I said 'Okay, God. Wherever you want me to go, that's where I'm going to go,' and I got a phone call from Jordan's Crossing, and I came on September 28,” Bennett said.
Jordan’s Crossing is one of the only state run facilities in the state for women.
Their children can also live here with them.
There is a long waiting list, and priority is given to pregnant women.
Babies in the facility’s nursery were born to addicts. They stay here while their mothers are in rehab in another wing of the building.
Children who are old enough go to public school.
That is where Mysisha Lusk’s daughter is, and before the mother and daughter were here, Myisha was in the Oklahoma County Jail facing drug charges.
She lost her freedom and her daughter.
"I came from there to here,” Lusk said. “My attorney suggested it. That's why I originally came here."
Her opioid addiction goes way back. She has been hooked for years.
"I have sciatic nerve and degenerative disc disease, so that's why I originally started taking them, but then I realized I was taking them for other reasons,” she said. “ I needed more, and that's when I started hanging out with the wrong people."
Myisha started buying pills. It got out of control.
"I would wake up, and before I could do anything I had to take them, and I would sit there for a couple hours,” she said. "Just so I could feel the effects of them. I would get high off them. Everything revolved around that."
That is usually how it starts – pain, a prescription and then addiction.
"Any kind of opiate,” recovering addict, Courtney Bennett, said. “Roxies, OxyContin, Opanas, Vicodin."
Courtney is only 30 years old, but her injuries go back to high school sports.
Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and sore joints finally sent her to a pain management doctor.
"And he put me on Percocet, but I had experimented with it before then, because I was hurting so bad, and a friend introduced me to it,” she said.
However, her tolerance built up, and so did her addiction.
"I would take half that bottle in half a day. So that would mean I would be out of pills that whole next day, a whole prescription would be gone,” Bennett said.
Before long Courtney was making a two hour trip every other day to get her heroin fix.
It was cheaper than buying pills.
"The first thing I would do when I woke up, that was the first thing on my mind. I couldn't do anything else,” Lusk said. “I didn't want to get out of bed, or do anything or talk to anybody. I had to go do a shot before I'd do anything at all.”
After an emergency custody hearing and a hair follicle test, DHS took Courtney’s children, and drugs almost took her life.
Since 2011, there have been nearly one thousand Oklahoma women die from drug overdoses.
Hydrocodone, Methadone, Oxycodone, Morphine – the list of drugs and combinations are as diverse as the women who fall victim to them.
"I think what a lot of people don't understand about any addict or anybody with a chemical dependency, if they could quit on their own, they already would have,” said April Summers, an intake therapist at Jordan’s Crossing.
"Maybe people are more sympathetic and understanding without realizing as it goes on and on that she's developing a dependence and a problem with it,” she said.
It is not one that can’t be overcome, even in the most darkest of times.
"I just hope that they would know that there is always help out there. And if there is any question in their mind, if it is getting out of hand, that they would just call places like this and try to get clean off of them and feel how their life was clouded,” Lusk said.
Now clean, Myisha has hope, and her daughter.
"Miracles have happened, and she is with me now, and she's safe now, because I’m fixing my problem,” she said.
For Courtney, she says she can now live her life.
"Now I can enjoy life. I have feelings,” she said. "Whenever I was shooting up, I'd do one right after another wishing I was dead, and I didn't ever die. When I got here I realized I did have my wish that whole time. I was kind of dead. So, now I can live."
Both now living a life not clouded by the darkness of addiction.
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