PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Meth exploded onto the south Mississippi scene in the 21st century, and has been deeply affecting lives and families ever since. Former addicts say even if you escape addiction, you will spend the rest of your life mending the damage.
Bubba Killingsworth and Stacey Randall are both recovering from long-term meth addictions. The siblings sat down with WLOX, along with their mother, in hopes their story would prevent at least one person from trying the drug.
"We started doing dope together and we almost became enemies because of it," Bubba said of himself and his sister.
"Even us being brother and sister; you know, there were times when she tried to get over on me," he said. "We'd be fighting and arguing over stupid stuff."
Their mother Joyce Killingsworth said although she loves her children, during their 10 years of addiction, she lost all trust in them.
"The biggest challenge for me was just wondering if they were going to live through the night, you know," Joyce said. "I went to bed almost every night worried sick whether or not they're going to make it.
For Joyce, it was hard to watch her children fall deeper into the depths of addiction.
"I cried every night," she said. "And a lot of times in the day too."
Bubba and Stacey said they never realized the consequences of their addictions while they were using.
"I thought I had control," Bubba said. "But I never had control. The drugs had control."
They said the drug had such strong control; even a mother's love couldn't break or weaken its hold.
"I tried, I tried to tell them that they were not helping themselves, they were hurting themselves," Joyce said. "But until they actually went to jail, they never really saw it."
These days, Stacey Randall spends most of her days at the front desk of a Pascagoula law firm. She stays busy answering phone calls, managing a schedule, and doing other, more complicated paperwork. Above her desk are pictures of her loved ones. To look at her now, it's hard to believe she was ever hooked on meth.
Her brother Bubba has a similar story. He comes home from his job as a maintenance electrician every day. He has a wife, a son and a brand new grandchild. He and Stacey both say they're closer to each other and their mother Joyce than ever before.
Law enforcement officials said these scenarios are extremely rare in former meth users. After all, most of them don't recover. For those who do, the recovery process is extremely difficult.
"At first when they come out, you don't get that trust back," Joyce said. "You know, it's like everything they do, you're wondering, 'Are they going to go back to it?' 'Are they going to stay clean?'"
Bubba has been clean almost four years, and Stacey four and a half. Joyce said she's overwhelmingly happy with her children's progress. And they are thrilled with their new lives as well.
"I've got my life back," Bubba said with conviction.
"I wouldn't change it for nothing," Stacey added. "Don't want to give it up."
Addiction may be a thing of the past for this family, but it still haunts them. Every few months, Bubba and Stacey both say they have what's called a user dream, where they wake up with palms sweaty, heart pounding, and believing they've relapsed.
"Boy they're weird," Bubba said. "I wake up 3 o'clock in the morning sweating, and [say] 'Oh my God, what have I done?'"
The dreams are terrifying to these two recovering users.
"You feel like you just got high," Bubba said. "As soon as you realize it was just a dream, then your body calms down."
Dreams come and go, but health problems provide constant physical reminders of past mistakes.
"I have short term memory," Stacey said. "Sometimes I wonder if it's going to get worse. And I have a lot of stomach problems."
"My breathing is you know, [compromised]," Bubba said. "I worry about what it's done to my lungs."
Neither Bubba nor Stacey think time will heal the damage.
"When I get older, I figure that is when it's really going to hit me," Bubba said.
And Stacey is still facing the pain of losing custody of her daughters during her addiction.
"I mean, I see them and get them all the time now. But I'm just knowing that I went to that extent to where I lost them," Stacey said, tears welling in her eyes. "My mom has my son, but I'm with him every day. My older girls are with their dads, and that's hard."
They say there's still plenty of repairing yet to do, but Stacey and Bubba's mother Joyce said their struggle is mostly over. They couldn't be more overjoyed to have their family back.
"Miserable, sick at home, whatever," Stacey said. "I don't ever want to be back the way I was. Ever. Ever."
When Joyce reflects on the success of her two children, she's moved to tears of joy.
"I'm extremely proud," Joyce said. "I love them. And I'm so happy for them. You know I want them to continue like this, and I want them to be proud of themselves like I'm proud of them."
Both Stacey and Bubba were two of six former meth users featured in Part one of Life After Meth. Click here to see the full report.
As the battle against meth rages on, questions are arising about the health of the men and women on the front lines. Be sure to tune in Thursday night at 10 to hear from police officers and narcotics officials about their fears of life after meth.