Tulsa’s proliferation of meth labs recently earned it the title, “meth capital of the U.S.” TulsaPeople explores why Oklahoma is a hot bed for methamphetamine use.
Kimberly Cummings stands in front of the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center, where she was booked in 2009 for felony endeavoring to manufacture meth. Cummings’ mug shot, inset on opposite page, shows her transformation from 23 years of addiction to her four years of sobriety today.
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After 23 years of meth addiction, Kimberly Cummings found hope in a jail cell. She spent 18 hours in booking at David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center after an arrest for attempting to manufacture meth.
In April 2009, her addiction ended as abruptly as it had begun all those years ago.
Surprisingly, “I felt an immeasurable amount of peace when I was arrested,” Cummings says. “When I walked in the door of the prison, I immediately surrendered my life to Jesus. I finally found some hope.”
She called her oldest son, age 16 at the time, to tell him what was happening. She cried, and said, “Son, I’m in jail and it’s because of drugs.”
There was something in the sound of her voice that told him the long years of his mother’s addiction were finally, finally over. He said, “That’s OK, Mom, now we can start our new life.”
And they did.
Thousands of Oklahomans are affected by meth addiction. Oklahoma ranks third in the nation in per capita use of meth, according to the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index. A 2010 report of workplace drug use found our state’s meth use to be 240 percent greater than the national average.
Recently, CNN Money Map gave Tulsa the dubious title of “meth capital of the U.S.” Since 2004, 979 meth labs have been discovered in Tulsa County — more than any other county in the nation.
Her own brokenness
Cummings’ addiction began in a spiral of childhood trauma — sexual, mental and emotional abuse; a lack of nurturing; abandonment; poverty — where food was a privilege, and alcohol and substance use were “culturally expected” and accepted, she says.
After a childhood of powerlessness, Cummings was immediately drawn to the power meth offered her.
“You’re a super person,” on the drug, she says.
Meth can give users a heart-pounding euphoria, plus it’s cheap and easy to find, Cummings explains.
She used the drug daily except while pregnant with her three children. Despite her use, Cummings says she didn’t face up to her addiction because she was able to manage it.
“We had a house and a very successful business,” she says. “So, the reason I used was never addressed.”
After two failed marriages, Cummings turned more and more often to her addiction for comfort. After the death of her mother in 2007, the threads of her formerly functional lifestyle unraveled.
“I’d lost my job, I’d lost my home, I lost my kids, and I fell into an abyss of addiction. It was the darkest time,” she says. “I fell off the face of the earth. I was homeless. I abandoned my kids. I thought it was best if I just (wasn’t) around them.”
In the warp of her addiction, Cummings started to think the only way she could get her life back was by making and selling meth for money to buy a home.
“I thought I was building back to get my kids by having a meth lab at my house,” she says.
And then, she was arrested.