Jaime Smith, 38
in recovery since April 6, 2016
She describes herself as your typical “All American Girl:” a wife and mother of four with a great job and a nice house in a small town in Illinois.
Yet for over two years Jaime Smith carried a deep, dark, and very painful secret.
“I belonged to a pill gang of mothers. They are my neighbors. My kids are friends with their kids.”
A death in the family, a move to a new town, and anxiety over a rebellious teen son triggered a flirtation with antidepressants and prescription painkillers to numb the stress and help her cope with lives unravelling.
As Jaime struggled to fit into her new community, she found herself gathered with other mothers in the area. And she realized they had something shocking in common.
“We’d sit around our living rooms and swap our pain pills. We’d take inventory — who had what and who needed to try to get something refilled,” she recalls. “Sitting there on our suburban couches. It was our little pill playground.”
It didn’t take long for Jaime’s flirtation with pills to grow into a full-blown love affair. And when the group introduced heroin, the addiction was powerful and immediate.
Before long, she was buying $20 bags of heroin daily from a dealer who would deliver to her home after her husband and kids left for work and school.
Then she did the unthinkable: she walked out one day and took off for Chicago with her dealer, leaving her children and family behind.
“I just up and left,” she says, choking back tears. “I wanted my drug so badly I didn’t care about anyone or anything else.”
She ended up totaling two cars, blowing through her savings, then stealing to support her habit. She hit rock bottom after being severely beaten by her dealer-boyfriend. Her desperate family finally convinced her to come home and enter rehab.
“I was such a rehab brat,” she recalls. “I wanted recovery so much — I wanted my life back — but I couldn’t see the path back at first. I would scream. Throw chairs. Punch people.”
“The counselors though — they would not give up on me. And eventually I found myself embracing what they taught. And in doing so, my path to recovery appeared.”
Today Jaime is celebrating nine months sober.
“I’m finally at peace,” she says. “All my pieces are put back differently now. This is a new me. My kids have a more confident mom now.”
“Do I still struggle? Hell yes. I still fight my addiction every damn day,” she says. “It is a demon. A demon that lives in my head and tortures me every single day. A demon that begs me to come play one more round every day. But it’s a demon I cannot let win and one I will not let win. I am committed to my recovery and I will let nothing stand in my way.”
And so today instead of running away she battles that demon by looking addiction face-on and addressing it. She is speaking out and sharing her story, even though she’s finding that that’s not always easy. “With some neighbors, I’ve been shunned. My children get comments, looks.”
But, she says, she must speak up. “It happened in my own back yard with my neighbors. It’s in our living rooms and it’s in our schools. It’s time that we talk about it — for our families and our children.”
“Look at me,” she says. “I want you to really look at me. I am your typical ‘All American Girl’. And I am a junkie. I’m speaking up because my story can save lives.”
Check out Jaime’s Facebook support group:
My Demon Named Addiction
Check out WAND’s two stories on Jaime:
Road to Recovery: a local mom sharing a message of hope
Special Report: a demon named addiction