Reporter's notebook Part I: Meeting Mary

When Mary first called the newsroom in August 2005, she left voicemails with several reporters. As natural skeptics, most dismissed her declaration of being scared straight and her vow to never use methamphetamine as premature at best.

And it was. Addictions are rarely cured by a moment's realization.

But I wanted to see recovery from the inside, so I asked if photographer Brad Horn and I could follow her through the process.

She agreed, and we went to her house to meet her.

I was first struck by Mary's honesty. Brad and I came over as strangers, but she immediately opened up to us.

Rarely have I seen anyone so sad. She told us about her failings as a mother, her disappointment in herself and her fear that she couldn't make those things right.

Despite her trepidation, however, she also was astonishingly hopeful for a woman who'd already been through 11 court-ordered rehabs.

I responded to her optimism. I'd interviewed enough therapists to know that relapse was part of recovery, so I didn't expect that she would never use again. Still I believed she was sincere.

By contrast, Brad, who's had his own struggles with various drugs, including methamphetamine, remained skeptical.

He knew the adversity that lay ahead and that it would take more than even the most sincere desire to get clean.

We left her that day with mixed emotions but hopeful that this story, Mary's story, would have a happy ending.

- Teri Vance

• Do you have a story about methamphetamine? E-mail me at or call 881-1272.


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