Our View: Former user may be key | CraigDailyPress.com

Our View: Former user may be key

During the first meeting of the Communities Overcoming Methamphetamine Abuse task force, Mike Fuller sensed a “vigilante” mentality among participants.

Many seemed angry at how the drug had shattered their sense of small-town tranquility. Although he understood their anger, Fuller wondered if the group had the right mindset to approach the problem realistically. After all, you can’t simply exterminate meth like a cockroach infestation.

“It’s too cheap, too easy to make, and there’s too many potential customers here to drive it away,” Fuller said Thursday.

Fuller, a well-known Craig radio personality, may be one of the few people on the C.O.M.A. who can view the problem from the inside out. He’s a former meth user, and he decided his story might serve a purpose now that Craig has come to grips with its meth problem.

Until the C.O.M.A task force came into existence, he didn’t see the relevance of discussing his past. But it’s clear that his experience as a user and his path to recovery contain useful clues to the C.O.M.A executive committee. He knows from the questions they pose that C.O.M.A members really don’t understand the drug the way he does.

He’s a member of C.O.M.A’s education committee. At the group’s Dec. 16 meeting, he got a clear sense that the group isn’t just trying to be an “executioner,” but a healing resource for people who want and need help. He said it was reassuring to know that C.O.M.A. is trying to reach out to people and not just run them out of town.

In the rehabilitation program he went through as a teenager, counselors advised him that “once an addict, always an addict.” He agrees with that to a point because former users are always vulnerable to a relapse. But Fuller prefers the term “former user,” because he doesn’t feel addicted to the drug anymore. It doesn’t consume him like it did the first time he tried it in Lancaster, Calif., at the age of 16.

“The first time I tried it, I knew I liked it and I was going to keep doing it for a long time,” he said.

What followed was four years of highs and lows. What set him straight was the realization that he could never fulfill his personal and professional goals with the addiction weighing him down like an anchor. He thinks that might be a key to recovery for others.

Meth addicts need to know that there is life after the drug — that they don’t have to chase a high for the rest of their lives to find fulfillment, he said.

“We have to help them realize they can have goals and — without lecturing them — explain that their goals are achievable, but not on the path they’re on.”

Fuller has never hidden his past. Those who know him well, know he’s overcome a lot to become a stable family man and respected member of the community. So when the C.O.M.A task force started looking for volunteers, he had to decide whether to keep his story within his circle of friends and professional associates.

He decided he had nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.

“Anyone can dig up skeletons. As a professional news gatherer, my credibility is all I have. I need it to do my job.”

So he started sharing his personal story. “Besides, it’s my past, not my present, so I have nothing to worry about,” he said.

So far, he’s gotten nothing but positive reinforcement.

We want to thank Fuller for having the courage to speak about his addiction. We think his story and his involvement in the C.O.M.A task force are positive developments in our community’s battle against meth.

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