Resident discusses overcoming opioid addiction
Stephanie Stout is an overcomer.
She had a rough childhood. She never had a stable home, with the exception of grandma’s house. She was passed around from home to home and, by default, was raising her little brother. At seven years old, she was molested by a family member, and when she finally spoke up about it, she was disregarded. In middle school she began to drink when hanging out with friends, saying it made her feel like she fit in and it gave her confidence.
At 22 years old, she was taking pills like Percocet and Oxycontin, but didn’t realize she had a problem until she ran out of pills and didn’t feel “right.” A friend told her she was sick because she wasn’t taking the pills, so Stout began selling heroin to pay for her pill habit, until they got too expensive. Heroin was cheaper. Her full-blown addiction began.
“It got to the point where I didn’t focus on anything but how I was going to get my fix for the day because I couldn’t function without it,” said Stout.
She was on a roller coaster ride of getting help, taking prescribed medications like Suboxone and Methadone to try to curb her opioid dependence and then falling away from treatment to resume heroin use, driving to and from Baltimore to pick up more heroin. All of this occurred while her three small children were being cared for by their grandparents.
“It was a struggle to get up and get my kids ready for school in the morning because I felt so weak and sick,” she said.
Stout recounted the story of her battle with addiction to members of the Shepherdstown and Shepherd University police, as well as citizens from the community, as the guest speaker at the quarterly Coffee with a Cop evening sponsored by the Shepherdstown Police Department.
Stealing from people had become commonplace for Stout. She was finally arrested for breaking into a house close to her own home. She knew she would be seen and get caught because the house was on a busy road, but she said she didn’t care.
“I didn’t care what the repercussions were going to be because in my mind, if I was going to get arrested, at least I could go away and maybe get my life back on track,” Stout said.
Stout landed in Eastern Regional Jail for eight months and then to Lakin Prison, where she was enrolled in a residential substance and abuse treatment program, a program she credits with changing her life.
“It helped me work on all those underlying issues and helped me try to make peace with my past and the things I was harboring,” she said.
Today, Stout works as a peer recovery coach at the Berkeley County Recovery Resource Center. The center’s mission is provide resources, support and treatment to addicts and their families, as well as train mentors who can guide others in the recovery process. They collaborate with the Day Report Center and Drug Court, and house meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery.
In June, Stout will celebrate two years of sobriety with total abstinence.
“People can recover. They can change their lives,” Stout said. “An important aspect is that peer experience. I can share with them, ‘yes, I’ve been there too.'”
For more information about the Berkeley Recovery Center, visit their website at recoveryresourcecenter.berkeleywv.org/resourcecenter/. To get help with addiction call or text 1-844-HELP4WV (435-7498), 24 hours a day.