Meth addiction fills up prisons and rips apart families. It’s hard to understand why anyone ever tries the drug in the first place.
While the road to recovery is a long and tough one, a Brookings woman is living proof there is life after meth.
Rebecca Hungerford says meth made her the kind of mom she once judged harshly.
“I was a goody two shoes, totally,” Hungerford said.
Hungerford was an athlete and straight A Student. At 22, she tried meth for the first time.
“I remember specifically thinking about the commercial; and I still think about it.
1987 Partnership for a Drug Free America commercial said, “This is drugs; this is your brain on drugs,” as an egg was cracked into a frying pan.
“I wasn’t afraid to try anything because I just didn’t think it would affect me,” Hungerford said.
Hungerford didn’t become addicted until 6 years later.
“You just constantly seek that again and again and again. Eventually you’re not really choosing it; it’s choosing you,’ Hungerford said.
She lost her job, but there was one thing she was determined not to lose.
“When I’m using meth, I said,’I’ll never be the mom who loses their child. I would meet people, ‘Yeah I don’t have my kid anymore.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my God,’ Judgment, judgment; until I became that mom,” Hungerford said.
“I knew things weren’t right, but I wanted to trust her. I wanted to have faith that it was going to be good and I could help her be good,” Hungerford’s daughter Jessica Downey said.
“I’m trying desperately to take care of her and do what’s right and be the mom I wanted to be, desperately,” Hungerford said.
Downey was 14 when her mom was caught with meth.
“I called her and I said I had been arrested; and I’ve been arrested for drugs,” Hungeford said.
“Cause I wasn’t enough to do it for her and then I had to call my grandparents to come back. That was the turning point for me. I became really hardened I would say from that point on. I did not trust her anymore,” Downey said.
Hungerford says getting arrested turned her life around.
“I will always be so grateful for that day, even 14 years later, how difficult it is to relive it, because it was the worst, best day of my life because it set into motion the opportunity to become not only that person; but become who I am today,” Hungerford said
Hungerford got help and her health back. But it took years for her to gain her daughter’s trust.
“When I would visit her I would go with her to AA meetings, NA meetings, and I would sit with her. I made it a point to go with her to her meetings,” Downey said.
Downey says gradually, through her mom’s actions, she was able to forgive her.
“I’d never given up on her. I always had that hope,” Downey said.
Hope that paved the way to their relationship today.
“We’re best friends. I call her every morning,” Downey said.
The two women even got pregnant at the same time. Hungerford gave birth to Downey’s brother one month before her first grandchild was born.
“I’m so glad my kids have their grandma,” Downey said.
“You can have anything you want and this is just a bump in the road and doesn’t have to define you forever. It is an experience that can enrich you to help other people down the road. And I want to use that for the good of other people now,” Hungerford said.
Hungerford is putting those words into action. Along with her family and a friend, who is also in recovery, they are opening the first Oxford House Sober Living Home in Sioux Falls.
In Monday night’s Eye on KELOLAND we bring you the story of both of the women’s battle with addiction and show you their journey to give back in such a significant way with a “Home for Healing.”