Through years of drug abuse, Lindy Dilley told herself she would never shoot up.
There was weed at age 13. Narcotic pain pills at 24. Cocaine and methadone followed.
Then at age 27, mired in more than a decade of addiction, she held a syringe of heroin and broke the promise she had made to herself. That was five years ago.
Today Dilley, 32, sees her life at a crossroads. Arrested three days after Christmas on narcotics charges, she attends rehab while awaiting trial. She insists she has turned a corner. With her sister Hattie Sutton, Dilley is helping to launch an anti-drug group to raise awareness.
But jail remains a possibility. If there is a family that knows the heartbreak that drugs can bring, this is it. Sutton said two other family members are also battling addiction.
"It’s a very humbling experience to watch drugs turn someone into somebody you don’t know," she said.
Dilley, from Warsaw in Kosciusko County, quit high school in 10th grade. She took drugs to fit in. Then she took them to cover a painful past. Through tears, she says she’d rather not talk about that.
During the years of drug abuse, she was clean for maybe a week or two, she said. She held jobs and never thought drugs were a problem. But heroin would consume her life.
"When I started shooting up heroin, I pretty much gave up on everything," Dilley said.
Then came last Christmas, a wake-up call. Even after spending a few nights in jail Dilley started getting high again.
"I started to think I’m never going to get out of this hole," she said. "And one day I just called my mom and I was just talking to her and I was like ‘I need help. I just can’t do it anymore.’ And so I made the decision to go to rehab."
Dilley says she’s been clean since Jan. 23.
She entered a detox center for five days. She was then referred to the Bowen Center, a mental health agency in Fort Wayne, and has attended various safety and substance abuse classes there since February. Dilley says she’s on a low dose of Suboxone, a narcotic used to wean addicts off opiates. She knows that drug, too, can be abused but insists she’s beyond that.
Today, Dilley lives in an apartment complex her mother manages. She’s not working, having lost a coffee shop job when supervisors found something in her background they didn’t like, she said. And there are the Kosciusko County felony charges of possessing a narcotic drug, dealing in a synthetic drug and maintaining a common nuisance. A trial is set for September.
"I’m hoping the judge will see that I am trying to change my life and drop it down, but I’ll just have to live with it, because I made the decision to do that," she said.
She and Sutton are excited about Healing 4 Heroin, the group Sutton started. She envisions a Facebook page, a resource guide to get help and even a rally downtown to raise awareness.
"It’s all about making that choice to taking a chance to make that change," Dilley said. "I always thought I had good times in my life before. I’m 32 years old and I am only now beginning to enjoy life. I always thought I was happy before, but I love myself and I’m not going to let any substance take that away from me again."