Editor’s Note: This is the second part and conclusion of Amanda Chafin’s story, the first part of which was published in the previous edition of the Sunday Times-Sentinel.
GALLIA COUNTY — “I was making a lot of money in a quick manner, but I was doing a lot of damage in Gallia County,” said Amanda Chafin. “A lot of damage. I pray to God every day that, to my knowledge, I didn’t supply any lethal doses.”
Now back to dealing, Chafin tried to get clean from heroin by replacing it with marijuana and managed to reduce her heroin usage significantly. By July 2, 2017, she had used heroin so little that when she took a dose, so she could tell a customer how it was, it was too much for her system. It would be the first time she was administered Narcan. After that incident, she managed to steer clear of heroin for 10 days, until the next batch came into town. She took a small amount, not realizing it was the new mixture often called “Gray Death” which is heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil. This time she woke up after being administered Narcan in the middle of Vinton Avenue.
“When I woke up from that I was like, God you’ve got to do whatever you’re going to do. I remember going in the house that night and I’m looking at these needles and I’m thinking my life is a mess,” she said. “I’m a known thief at this point. Everything I had worked so hard for was gone. My family wants nothing to do with me. I had absolutely nobody. I was miserable. I hated who I was.”
It would ultimately be a trip out of town and a subsequent drug run that would change her life, albeit not in the way she had thought. On July 14, 2017, she was arrested in West Virginia and faced major felony drug charges as a result of that arrest. Her mugshot appeared in both the regional media and local media and, for the first time, her drug dealing, and addiction were on display for the whole world to see.
“It was what I needed at that time,” she said. “I embraced it.”
She was eventually indicted and had a lot of people “go to bat for her” to receive the opportunity to pursue treatment at Hope House in lieu of conviction, which meant if she successfully completed the recovery program and her probation, she would get a fresh start.
“I just shut up and let God fight my battle for me. That’s all I can say is that I let my faith take over,” said Amanda.
Her first days in Hope House weren’t easy as she was forced to come face-to-face with the effects of her dealing in the faces of the other women in the facility – many of whom were her former clients. But she did it and she graduated from Hope House, then moved into sober living. In July, she passed her one-year sobriety mark, she was able to find employment, purchase a car and recently gained custody of her daughter back.
As part of her recovery, she is working to make amends to individuals she’s hurt, as well as the local community through volunteer work. She also plans to continue helping others still in active addiction find their way to recovery.
She won’t lie and say the recovery process has been easy. Finding employment, given the publicity of her arrest and the fact that she was determined to stay in her hometown through the process, wasn’t easy. But she said she has faith she will have what she needs when the time is right and wants to rebuild her life the right way and doesn’t feel she could go back to drug dealing, even if she wanted to.
“At this point, I don’t know if I’m a good drug dealer anymore. Really, I don’t think I am. Number one, you have to believe in your product and I don’t believe in my product anymore. At one point, I did. I don’t today and that’s the difference now. I don’t believe in the product. I don’t believe in the dealer. I just don’t believe it anymore,” she said. “Honestly, I believe, where I stand at now, my ultimate calling was going from dope dealer to hope dealer.”
She credits Field of Hope with helping her reach this point in recovery and said she believes facilities like Field of Hope and Hope House will be major contenders in the recovery process.
“When you add faith to recovery, that breaks chains. That breaks strongholds. I have a feeling in the years to come you’re going to see better recovery success rates,” she said.
As she moves forward with her recovery, Chafin said she wants to be part of the resistance.
“I want to be part of the solution, not the problem. That is my goal,” said Chafin. “Let’s work together as a society. Let’s work together as a town. I’m an addict. Who knows better than an addict?”
And while her public arrest was embarrassing, she is thankful for the grace and mercy she was shown.
“I’m thankful for this opportunity to work with my community and to show other addicts, no matter what you’ve done, if you really, really want to prove you can do it, you can do it,” said Chafin. “I hope with everything in me that I remain humble and I always look to the addict and I always see a broken individual just like I am. This time I don’t look for power. I never want to get to a point where I want power in any of it. I just want to be a simple, humble human being. I want to live comfortably here in Gallia County and I just want to serve my people. I want to work a normal job and I just want to serve people. Beyond that I want nothing. A normal job, a car and my family and just to be happy. I want to serve in a happy church. I just want to help.”
For more about Field of Hope and Hope House, visit their website at www.fieldofhope.life.
Michelle Leigh Miller is an independent author and freelance writer living in Gallipolis, Ohio. You can follow her author journey at michelleleighmiller.com.