Detox process can be painful without programming, help

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third installment in a five-part series in The Review Times about one woman’s journey through addiction to drugs and alcohol.


Stephanie Smith of Tiffin lost her children, her home, her car, her license and her job to drug abuse. She also received a felony drug possession charge for having cocaine in her system.

“I let everything go. I just became this drifter, going from place to place, using. I spent a lot of time in disgusting places. I saw a lot of terrible things. I was using every drug I could get my hands on.” Smith said she was just waiting to die, to cease to exist.

Then she caught a flesh-eating virus from shooting up and was taken by medical helicopter to a Toledo hospital. Smith said she was certain she was going to lose her arm. “They kept telling me they were going to have to amputate it, because the virus just kept growing back so fast.”

Seven surgeries later, the removal of her bicep finally stopped the virus. “I remember the plastic surgeon telling me that the other doctors didn’t even want to sew up my arm. They wanted to put a skin graft on it. They said, she’s just a drug addict,’ they didn’t want to spend all that time on me. But he told me he spent hours in the surgery room to sew my arm back together.

He said that I needed to show him that he made the right choice and stay clean for him so his work wasn’t for nothing.”

This motivated Smith, and from her hospital room she turned herself in on the felony charge. She said her mother found out about her medical condition and had her transferred from the hospital to the nursing home where her mother worked.

Smith went through a month and a half of intense physical therapy to regain use of her arm. From the nursing home, Smith said she went straight to jail.

Mircea Handru, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky & Wyandot Counties, said it is usually a catastrophic event that makes an addict decide they want to quit using substances.

“They are either in the midst of losing their children, financially maybe they are bankrupt, they lost their job, they lost their house. It could be they have been incarcerated. They have broke the law so many times they are now in jail and at their lowest point.”

Smith said she spent five-and-ahalf months in the Richland County Jail and was then sentenced to CBCF (Community Based Correctional Facility) in Akron. The CBCF program gives offenders an opportunity to remain in their home community while undergoing substance abuse treatment, job training and other services.

“So I spent six months there. I really thought I had a handle on it,” she said of her addiction.

Handru said it takes five to seven days for an addict to detox and get the drugs out of their system.

“The reality is every (user) who is sentenced to jail and they have no way out of it will go through this,” he said, adding that detox is not pleasant.

“I think the detox process can be really ugly. It’s almost like an extremely bad flu for a number of days … It could be a very painful process depending on what they are addicted to and for how long,” he said.

But Smith had no aftercare program in place and she said she really had not yet dealt with the real pain in her life.

Within days of her release, Smith was back using drugs and passed out while driving her mother’s car. The car hit a tree, spun around and hit a house. She was charged with an OVI (operating a vehicle under the influence).

“Even then, I remember waking up in the driver’s seat thinking, ‘Man, I just will not die!’” EDITOR’S NOTE: Part four in this series looks at what turned one woman around on her journey to a substance-free life. Those seeking recovery from addiction can call Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky & Wyandot Counties’ 24/7 crisis hotline at 1-800-8261306.