I am no longer Kristy Rich. I am inmate No. 352864 and I belong to the South Carolina Department of Corrections. As you can imagine, I no longer have an identity, at least not for the remainder of my 25-year sentence.
Let me tell you about my life before prison.
I was a mother of two and I had separated from my husband. I was raising my daughter and son, managing Melvin’s and doing great with life. But then I started dabbling a little here and there with Lorcet and Percocet. It was nothing — or I thought it was nothing, but it was a gateway.
So let’s see … I met a man and, boy, did my life start to spiral out of control.
I lost my steady rock in my life, my grandmother, at around the same time and was soon introduced to cocaine and pills. It seemed to help ease the pain — God only knows it didn’t. I didn’t know the pain those drugs were going to cause me in the future.
In order to support my habits, I quit my job and started stripping. To be able to do the things I had to do at the clubs, I had to be high — and then a little higher. After six years of this lifestyle, I went to the methadone clinic. I was tired and I needed help, and I thought I was getting it.
Boy, was I wrong.
I started a bigger habit. I was clean from drugs … only to become addicted to something a doctor was offering to me to beat the previous habit.
I left my husband and, guess what? I met another man … surprise, surprise. He helped me to get clean from the methadone only to help me get addicted and hooked on something so much worse — something that has forever changed my life and taken away my children and my family for the next 21 years and three months.
I let him introduce me to a needle.
I knew the day I let him shoot me up with cocaine that the life I knew was forever gone. From that point on, I couldn’t think about anything but my next shot, not the people I was hurting or stealing from. I was so far gone, it didn’t even matter.
I hit rock bottom when we ran out of money, and that’s how my new life started.
I was with three other guys when they broke into a home of one of my friends while he was there. Even though I was not in the house, I knew him and I received the most prison time.
But, as bad as things are, my fate could have been so much worse. My addiction could have taken my life; I’ve lost a lot of friends to drugs since I’ve gone; I miss my kids and my family so much — I’m so far from them and don’t get to see them very often and I know their hearts hurt as bad as mine because this horrible thing called addiction has changed all of our lives.
For any of you with addiction problems, please read my story and know that if things could be different, I would have gotten help so I could have my life back. Please look at your children, your family and know you are hurting them — and I know it’s hard, but ask for help and know the outcome will change your life, turn your life around and have a better outcome than mine.
And of all the people you call friends, just know when you are in prison that they disappear — or when you do too much of whatever drugs you are doing and it causes damage to you, they’re not going to be there. Take it from me, the people you are fighting against so hard while you are addicted, in the end, will be all you have.
So look at your family and realize they are the ones who will save you. Please ask for help. There are so many outreach programs and rehabs that will help you.
Thank you for reading my story, and again, I urge you to get help now.
Kristy Rich of Elizabethtown, after being sentenced for her part in a breaking and entering case, is now residing as a felon within the walls of the South Carolina Department of Corrections.