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Former methamphetamine addict hopes her story can help others

By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Nila Adame remembers the date perfectly. The first time was July 3, 2005 and instantly I was addicted, she said. The 25-year-old had dabbled in several drugs including pot, acid, cocaine and mushrooms since the age of 13. She also had a serious alcohol addiction since the age of 17, she said. But it was on that July day that the mother of two ” pregnant with her second child at the time ” stuck a needle in her skin and got addicted to the rush of methamphetamines instantly pounding through her blood stream. Her addiction continued for another couple months until she was arrested. It was from there that she was entered into a series of recovery programs. Her journey brought her to Acres of Hope in Applegate, where she sat Monday afternoon talking about her past drug use. It feels weird but it's good, Adame said. Adame said she wants to tell her story so she can help other people, especially women, change their lives for the better. Adame's story isn't the only one being told in the area. Tomorrow six Sacramento-area TV stations will set up a half-hour road block at 6:30 p.m. During that time, each station will air Crystal Darkness, an anti-drug documentary that is part of a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of methamphetamine use in 49 states, according to Michael Reynolds, producer of Crystal Darkness and owner of Global Studios. It's surprising how many people aren't aware of the decay and rot happening in the community because of crystal meth use, Reynolds said. Last year, methamphetamine cases made up 62 percent of cases investigated by the California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement Placer Special Investigation Unit, according to Jeff Cameron, special agent supervisor with the unit. Cameron said that percentage is the average number of meth-related cases a Placer County narcotics officer sees year-to-year. He said the availability of methamphetamines and their addictive nature are a couple of the main reasons why the case number is high. Once these people are addicted to methamphetamines, the craving for it is so intense they'll be willing to give up their lives for it, Cameron said. The documentary airing tomorrow will focus on how methamphetamine use affects the Sacramento area. The 28-minute program includes interviews with the Sacramento's district attorney and law enforcement. News10 News Director Stacy Owen said it was an easy decision to postpone Jeopardy! to a later time. We felt law enforcement was coming to us and saying we have an opportunity here to really make a bold message to the community about how devastating this drug can be, Owen said. It fit in with our values and goals as far as a public servant and not just journalists. The station will hold a live chat online during the documentary and 30 minutes after so viewers have a chance to talk to a former addict. In recent years, the Placer Special Investigation Unit has decreased the number of methamphetamine lab seizures, Cameron said. He credits that decrease to law enforcement's effort to shut down lab operations, and legislation restricting the sale of chemicals used to produce methamphetamines. Cameron said he is in favor of documentaries such as Crystal Darkness. I think they help immensely, Cameron said. Anytime you can make people aware of the danger out there ” and this is a really dangerous drug ” it does nothing but benefit the community. Programs such those run through Acres of Hope address drug issues. Acres of Hope is a long-term housing program for homeless women and children, according to Darrell Sarmento, development director. The program's goal is to help families address the issues that lead to homelessness. Adame is one of six mothers and about 15 children currently living at the long-term faith-based facility. All of the women bring treated by Acres of Hope have serious drug addictions, according to Regina Sarmento, executive director of Acres of Hope. Adame said she hopes to one day benefit the community. She wants to become a drug and alcohol counselor for women and young girls. I want to do volunteer work with young girls and talk to them about what drug addictions can lead you to, Adame said. There is hope for them to get clean and sober. Adame still has a long road before she reaches that goal. Women at Acres of Hope can stay at the facility for two years, and most stay for about a year and a half, according to Regina Sarmento, executive director of the program, and Darrell Sarmento, development director. When asked how long she had been staying at Acres of Hope, it suddenly dawned on Adame that it had been 30 days. A big grin spread across her face as looked over at Regina, who gave a knowing smile. Yes, orientation is over, Regina Sarmento said. I get my cell phone back, Adame said excitedly. And with the help of Acres of Hope staff and Adame's persistence, Regina said she hopes Adame will get a whole lot more back by the time she has finished her stay at Acres of Hope. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment.