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This is my interview with The Fremont News Messenger.
Drugs a 'real issue' in the area
BY MATT MANNING • Staff writer • December 5, 2009
Anna Robertson was 22 when she made the jump from OxyContin to heroin because she was told heroin was like the pain medication, but stronger.
For the next five years, she was a "soulless person walking the earth," as her addiction worsened. If not for being arrested and indicted for trafficking, the Bellevue resident could have been dead.
Her story is all too typical. Many addicts are making the leap from prescriptions to street drug addiction.
"It's absolutely starting with alcohol and marijuana," Fremont police Sgt. T.J. Woolf said. "They certainly are gateway drugs. ... Most people don't start out with heroin."
He said the abundance of prescription medications can cause worry.
"We've been a crack town," Woolf said. "Prescriptions are very prevalent. .... eventually we'll see a lot more (heroin)."
Robertson says no communities are safe.
"It's a real issue around here and it's not going away."
Doug St. Clair, commander of the Ottawa County Drug Task Force, said he's seen an increase in the use of synthetic opioids, like oxycodone and hydrocodone. People are seeking prescriptions for them from a variety of doctors.
"Most of the time, it's abuse by the person," St. Clair said. "Sometimes, it's sold."
Robertson was taking pills like OxyContin shortly after she graduated high school.
"I was doing pills on and off," she said. "I used it a few times but didn't like it because it made me sick."
She was introduced to heroin by a stepbrother who lived in Cleveland. Before too long, she began getting regular fixes and selling the drug to get money and feed her addiction -- she said she spent about $1,000 every couple of days.
"I definitely got sick and lost a lot of weight," she said. "I would wake up and do heroin, clean the house, sell some heroin, then go to Cleveland and do more. ... I was on the road a lot, picking up heroin and bringing it back."
And heroin's starting to creep into the area, St. Clair said.
"We're hearing there's heroin on the streets coming from Columbus," St. Clair said. "We haven't seen something like this in a long time."
Robertson would take her son Triston, now 7, with her when she went to get drugs. He saw her get robbed.
"He witnessed my drug addiction and downward spiral," she said. "I was robbed while selling it and choked out in front of my son."
Her parents, Pat and Brenda Robertson, would later gain custody of the boy because she was an unfit parent, she said. Robertson was eventually arrested and indicted in 2007 by Bellevue police for trafficking heroin in the vicinity of a juvenile or school. She was caught making a deal to an undercover police officer. She was tried in Sandusky and Huron counties, and served a total of two and a half years in Marysville prison.
She said jail was a "spiritual awakening."
"I started journalizing, I felt so alone," she said. "I journalized what I was feeling and discovered why I was the way I was. ... It saved my life and I found faith. It was a blessing."
She has released a book of poetry and writings from her two and a half years behind bars. She advises her story can be a little graphic, but for good reason in the hopes her story can prevent and educate those following similar paths.
The book, "Freedom #70863: From Gutter to Glory" will be released in stores Jan. 6, and is now available online at publishamerica.net., under the Anna Robertson search field.
Fortunately, she was able to get clean using the Suboxone program -- medication and therapy meant to lead people off opiates -- before heading to prison.
She lost eight people to drugs in the last year and a half, including a cousin. But since being released from prison in June, she said she has a new purpose in life and hasn't taken anything for granted.
"I just hope that when people hear my story, it would enlighten them and bring them hope," she said. "I never dreamed in a million years that I would see the things I've seen and do the things I've done."