Getting clean: Heroin addict goes through pioneering program

Published 9:08 am Thursday, October 8, 2015

BOSTON — Kylee Moriarty has experienced her share of ups and downs since deciding to kick her heroin habit this past summer.

The 26-year-old’s journey started in early July when she showed up, beaten and gaunt, at the police station in Gloucester, Massachusetts, looking to take advantage of the department’s pioneering policy of connecting addicts with treatment rather than throwing them in jail.

Fast forward to late September, and Moriarty has been clean for over 70 days — her longest drug-free stint in years, according to her and her family. Her mother, Jackie Law, pays a visit. It’s the first time she’s seen her daughter in over a year.

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Outside the Boston halfway house where Moriarty has been staying, the two sit side by side on a picnic bench, enjoying an unseasonably warm morning.

“I never thought we’d be here again,” Moriarty said, clasping her mother’s hand.

“You were really sick,” Law said, breaking into a tearful mumble. “But you’re not anymore. You’re back. And I’m so happy.”

“I’m not going anywhere now,” Moriarty reassured.

Days later, she stumbles.

She’s tossed out of the halfway house after housemates accuse her of being high on marijuana, a charge she vehemently denies.

Moriarty said there have been times over the past three months where she was on the verge of quitting and submitting to her cravings. She maintains she never did.

“The director basically wanted me to lie,” she said, still seething at the decision that sent her to another recovery house nearby, where she’s now required to submit to random drug tests but has somewhat greater freedoms to pursue work and other activities outside the house. “She said if I just admitted I was high, she’d let me stay. But I’m proud that I’m clean and sober.”

Moriarty said she’s as committed as ever to living clean. She’s focused on making amends with her family. She also hopes to one day reconnect with her young son, Landon, now in the sole custody of his biological father.

“That’s what keeps me going,” she said. “I’m going to get back those things that I lost.”

She said her addiction was the product of a tumultuous few years in which she dealt with bladder cancer, gave birth to her son two months prematurely and lost her biological father to suicide.

“Just a lot of things all at once,” Law observes. “Right after the cancer, her life went into fast forward.”

Law said she cut off Moriarty to protect Landon, whom she’d raised for years as her daughter struggled with addiction.

“I had to make a choice to let you go,” she told Moriarty during their reunion. “Emotionally, I was pretty tired. It took me a lot to even just come here. I didn’t know what to expect.”

Moriarty replied: “You made the right choice, Mom. I was completely toxic to everyone in my life. There was no reaching me.”

After her father committed suicide in 2008, just months after Landon was born, Moriarty said she started taking Suboxone, a prescription drug her boyfriend at the time had been taking to treat his heroin addiction.

From there, Moriarty said, she fell deeper into drug use, from the synthetic party drug Molly to oxycodone, cocaine and heroin. Along the way, she was arrested on a range of offenses, including speeding, misdemeanor assault, receiving stolen property and resisting arrest.

The reckoning came in early July, when her boyfriend beat her and threw her out, accusing her of stealing his drugs. In a twisted way, Moriarty said, the altercation was a blessing.

“Jail didn’t do it for me; losing my family and my child didn’t do it for me,” she said. “I literally had to be sleeping in a park for three days with no shoes and a broken face to get to that complete and utter desperation.”