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Faces of meth 

How three men are fighting the little white powder

Page 8 of 8

 

During his first week in DeKalb County jail, Paul slept. Now, two months later, he's established a routine. He wakes at 5 a.m. for breakfast, then goes back to sleep until 9 a.m. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., he works out, eats lunch and showers. Then he's locked in his cell until dinner. He usually reads during this time, or writes letters. He's started exploring Islam. His roommate prays five times a day, and Paul began asking what it was all about. His roommate handed him the Quran. Since then, Paul has tried to get his hands on any Muslim literature he can."I won't say I've found religion," he says, dressed in a bright orange jumpsuit still damp with sweat from his workout. "But I've started questioning a lot of things that are going on and trying to find placement for them."

He writes letters to his brother, aunt, mom and friends. He reads an Alcoholics Anonymous book and is trying to start the 12-step program. He's well past the first step - admitting he's an addict - and is writing letters to make amends with former friends and family, as part of step No. 8.

And he's made a list of what he's going to do when he gets out: try kickboxing and meditation, attend NA meetings, shop at herbal stores and get colonics. "I want to completely cleanse myself," he says.

On July 14, Paul's bond - originally set at $3,000 cash because he's considered a flight risk - was reduced by a magistrate judge to $2,000. He can't afford that, so he'll wait in jail until the district attorney indicts him or until a friend bonds him out. But Paul's not sure if he wants to be bonded out. He's in a structured environment where he can't be drawn to destructive activities.

"I figured out I was put here for a reason," he says. "There's somebody looking out for me somewhere."

 

When Britt woke up in a jail cell in South Carolina, he began to pray for the first time since childhood. Amazingly, he'd only suffered an abrasion on his arm. His BMW was totaled.After a day-and-a-half, a friend from rehab bailed him out. When he returned to Atlanta, the first thing he did was smoke ice with the friend. He did more drugs until Nov. 20, 2001, when his bank account was wiped out. He was dead broke.

The next day, he checked himself back into St. Jude's. It was his fourth attempt at rehab. This time was different, though. He readily admitted he had a problem.

Two years later, he reconciled with his family by giving a formal apology at his parents' house in Moultrie. He and his mother cried together as he sat in the den and told them he was sorry for the pain caused by years of addiction.

Today, he attends Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings religiously, three or four times a week. It took him a year-and-a-half to complete all 12 steps of the program. He often leads the meetings and is a sponsor for other meth users who are trying to kick the habit.

He's still screened randomly and still attends recovery meetings with the Pharmacists Recovery Network. He's in the midst of trying to get his license reinstated. In November, he'll celebrate four years of sobriety.

On a Friday evening, Britt mingles with a handful of recovering addicts at a CMA meeting. He laughs with a couple of guys who sit in the back row with him. At the end of the meeting, Britt gathers with the other attendees in a large circle. They wrap their arms around each other's shoulders and repeat - some of them for the thousandth time - the serenity prayer.

"You got to keep coming back," they say. "It works if you work it."

alyssa.abkowitz@creativeloafing.com

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