Convicted drugged driver: 'It destroyed me'

By Valencia

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCIV) - She doesn't want to release her name, but she does want to share her story. The unnamed woman says she remembers the first time she got drunk. She was six years old and her mother had given her moonshine to help with sickness.

"They thought it was cute," the woman said. "I got the attention I was craving as a kid, that love that I was looking for."

From there, she says life spiraled out of control. Her mother committed suicide and her father abandoned her.

"When you're raised like that, you wonder what's normal," said the woman. "It destroyed me. It destroyed the family."

Years later, the woman found herself in rehab.

"I put myself in there because I saw that I was going out of control," the woman said.

By 2013, the woman had been sober for three years. That's when she was invited to a friend's party. She had just taken her prescription anxiety medication when things took a turn for the worst.

"I was asked if I wanted a beer, first I said no," the woman said. "Then, everybody else was drinking. It's hard to be in an [drinking] environment if you've been in an alcoholic family."

The woman says she doesn't remember how many drinks she had and doesn't remember getting behind the wheel to drive home.

"I took out a couple signs on the way and hit this little bridge not far from my house; totaled my car," she said.

The woman was arrested and charged with DUI -- drugs and alcohol.

"I knew better than to do that. But sometimes, you have relapses," said the woman.

Consequently, the woman was sent to rehabilitation.

"At first I didn't like it," said the woman. "I was disappointed in myself more than anybody else in the whole world."

Patricia Bookard-Salley is a clinical coordinator for The Charleston Center, a substance abuse facility. She says resistance is fairly common in similar cases.

"I've seen over the years, sometimes it's looked at with minimal concern," said Bookard-Salley. "Often times, clients come and they're addicted and they don't know how they got there."

Bookard-Salley says driving high on prescription drugs and alcohol is not always done on purpose.

"Intentional seems somewhat harsh," said Bookard-Salley. "I'd say it's a choice, because when given prescriptions it tells you side effects. If you are being treated with pain killers or some of the meds for co-occurring disorders, alcohol should never be mixed."

Bookard-Salley says the key to overcoming such a problem is having the skills.

"As far as, finding healthy peer support, finding none using friends -- just people that are doing something different from what you normally do," Bookard-Salley said.

From a woman who has now learned how to cope, she says rehab saved her life.

"They helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. They really did. And, I'll never go back," the woman said.

The Charleston Center offers many different substance abuse services and programs.

For more information, call (843) 722-0100.