Natchez man with drug addiction finds freedom from fear

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 22, 2009

Daniel Farmer never considered himself a drug addict. He was worried about becoming one.

Farmer was worried his increasing use of marijuana was taking him down the road to become a full-blown drug addict.

“That stuff is just like a one way ticket to jail,” Farmer said. “Or it’ll kill you.”

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And it was that fear of a life in jail, or a life cut short, that drove Farmer to seek out help for his drug problem.

And so far, Farmer has found success in his quest to live a sober life.

“It feels great,” he said. “It’s a big relief.”

Farmer said he has been drug free for approximately one year.

That time away from drugs has given Farmer an opportunity to clear his head and better organize his priorities.

“Now I can’t even stand the smell of (marijuana) it just makes me sick,” he said. “I don’t want to be around it at all.”

And when Farmer talks about his success with sobriety, he’s quick to point out that he didn’t get where he is today on his own.

Farmer splits the credit for his success between himself and the Adams County Youth Drug Court program.

The program is a system that identifies the county’s youngest drug abusers and targets them for treatment.

Shelia Jackson is the program’s director and said success in the program demands dedication.

“It’s not easy,” Jackson said. “There isn’t anyone who has gone through the program and thought it was easy.”

That includes Farmer.

He readily admits there were times during the program where he wanted to be just about anywhere else.

And his failure to comply with the rules and regulations of the program earned him a stint in the county’s juvenile detention center last year.

“That was the worst part,” Farmer said of his stay in juvenile jail. “Just being away from my family and knowing that I was hurting them was terrible.”

Teresa Price, Farmer’s mother, said she never saw any warning signs her son was on drugs.

“I just didn’t know,” she said. “It was a shock to me.”

But now that Farmer has been through the county’s drug court system he can look back, with clarity, on the mistakes he made that brought him there in the first place.

Farmer said he first got caught up with drugs by simply hanging out with the wrong crowd.

“They were all smoking (marijuana), and I just felt like I should be doing it,” he said.

And it wasn’t long after Farmer first got high that it was becoming a fairly regular occurrence.

Getting high with friends, sometimes before school, became part of Farmer’s routine.

And while it started out as a way to have a good time, it was really just a waste of time, Farmer said.

“It throws something in your body, and you’re high,” he said. “Then you just lay around and watch TV and get bored then you get high again.”

But aside from not getting much of anything accomplished, it was the concern of what smoking marijuana would bring him to that made Farmer take the first steps to get help.

Farmer said when he was getting high he would start to think about using harder drugs to find out what they were like.

And Farmer’s thoughts kept taking him back to one drug to try — crack.

Farmer said two of his older brothers used to smoke crack and he badly wanted to try it also.

And that scared him.

“I didn’t want to make that jump,” he said.

So Farmer took drastic measures.

He called the cops on himself.

“I asked my mom if I could use her phone and I called the police,” he said.

Not long after that the Natchez Police Department showed up at Farmer’s house.

But they weren’t able to offer him much help.

Farmer said police told him they simply couldn’t arrest him for using drugs or put him in a treatment program.

And it wasn’t until months later that Farmer got in trouble at school and ultimately ended up before Youth Court Judge John Hudson.

It was that meeting that earned Farmer a spot in drug court.

While Farmer had initially called the police on himself and wanted treatment, his drug use continued. He got in trouble with drugs at school and lost his chance to graduate from drug court.

Having drugs on school grounds landed Farmer in the juvenile system.

“I was just sitting in there and I knew that’s were I would end up if I stayed (with drugs.) It’s a one-way ticket to jail,” he said.

That incident gave Farmer a renewed interest in drug court.

He successfully completed the program and he’s just waiting for the graduation ceremony.

But the graduation ceremony isn’t the only thing he’s waiting on.

Farmer lost so much time in school that by the time he finished the program, he was too old to get back in school.

He left school in the 10th grade, at 16, and now he can’t go back.

At 18, he’s eager to find work in the oil fields.

“That’s what I want to do,” he said. “I want to work and get a house and just have a normal life.”

But for now, Farmer’s just waiting for an opportunity to work.

That desire for a normal, drug- free life will serve as Farmer’s motivation.

“I was hurting my mother and my family,” he said. “And that made me feel guilty, that’s not what I wanted.”

And Farmer isn’t the only one confident in his success.

Jackson said she thinks Farmer will have success with sobriety.

“I think he’ll do it,” she said. “He’s got potential and he wants it.”

And Price is confident, too.

“He’s going to be OK,” she said. “I’m glad he’s done with it.”