She ran from the courthouse in hopes of avoiding jail time, but was chased down by officers three blocks away.
She was consumed by drugs and the unquenchable desire to do meth and take pain pills.
She lost custody of her children and was kicked out of her home.
She’s Bethany Stoner, a determined 28-year-old who has gone to battle with addiction and won. Stoner is celebrating four years of sobriety, emerging from ground zero to slowly weave the pieces of her life back together.
“I lost everything that meant something to me,” said Stoner of her life on drugs. “I would steal and lie to get exactly what I wanted. My addiction just got worse. I was on pain pills, Soma and meth, using all the time. Addiction is powerful. There are only two ways out – to get help or die.”
Bethany agreed to tell her story on this Mother’s Day because she wants people to know she lost it all – including her children – but mustered the strength to reclaim her life. She has overcome a crippling addiction and is now enjoying a productive and meaningful life.
After spending nine months in jail and in drug rehab, Bethany made a commitment to change direction. She has regained custody of her two children and now lives for her family, not for drugs.
“The kids keep me active and I want to be there for them all the time,” said Bethany, who, along with longtime boyfriend Jason Hillis, has four children in the house ages 7, 10, 12 and 14. “They’re all playing softball at Midway this year and they’re on four separate teams with four separate practices. It keeps me busy.”
Bethany says she started using drugs innocently enough as a 13-year-old just looking to have a good time.
“It started out as something that was just for fun,” said Bethany. “It was supposed to be fun and it turned into the biggest mistake of my life. At the age of 13, I started sneaking out of my bedroom window to go to parties where I would drink and get high, thinking it’s only for fun. Only later did I realize it would lead me down a road of disasters. I was always good in school, then I skipped school while at high school, or I would leave on lunch and get high then come back. Something happened to me at the age of 16 and it completely changed my life. I went crazy and I transferred to Van Buren County High School for the remainder of the school year.”
Bethany returned to Warren County at 17 and her drug use followed her. That’s when she expanded her drug horizons to include a number of prescription pills and meth.
She graduated from high school, but by that time her casual drug use had grown into a powerful addiction and Bethany was indicted for delivery. She spent three days in jail before being bonded out and eventually received probation for the charge.
With two small children and a drug habit to constantly feed, Bethany didn’t live up to the conditions of her probation.
“In 2012, someone called DCS and I failed a drug test for meth, Xanax, Hydrocodone, Percocet and Soma,” said Bethany. “My kids were taken away from me and my boyfriend kicked me out too.”
Still her drug use continued to blaze and Bethany spent more time in jail for violating her probation. She finally hit rock bottom during a court appearance on July 9, 2012.
“I had been up for three days and was taking Xanax when I went to court,” said Bethany. “I had to take a drug test and failed and Judge Stanley said you’re going to jail. Well, they didn’t put handcuffs on me and court was over and I was waiting on an officer to transport me. I darted out of the courtroom, down the steps, and out of the courthouse. The law finally snatched me up at Ben Lomand. I don’t remember most of that day. I do remember saying something has to change. When they booked me, I weighed 97 pounds. I was miserable. I missed my kids, I missed my boyfriend. I missed everything.”
Bethany’s road to sobriety began when she was accepted in the 31st Judicial District Drug Court. She was also accepted into Mending Hearts, a drug rehab in Nashville.
“While at Mending Hearts they teach you to let go of your past and love yourself,” said Bethany. “I had to accept that so I could move on and be happy. If I had to go back and change anything, I wouldn’t change anything at all.”
Bethany praised the work of local Drug Court officials, particularly that of Marianne Cripps. An addict herself, Cripps is now a certified peer recovery specialist.
“Bethany’s life was a mess, but she wanted to change and she’s shown that she can,” said Cripps. “I think it’s real important for us to talk about people who have turned their life around. It’s a way to give other people hope. I’m really excited about Bethany and her future.”
Cripps said Bethany has signed up to take classes so she can become a certified peer recovery specialist and help others with addition.
“It takes people like Bethany, people who have been down the vicious cycle of addiction, to know what it’s like,” said Cripps. “In that way they can give back and help others.”
Bethany says she’s thankful for everyone who has helped her along the way, especially Jason, her eight-year boyfriend.
“Even though he kicked me out, he never stopped supporting me,” said Bethany. “Life is full of possibilities.”