Meth user shares his story of addiction, recovery in prison

  • James Mott sits at the state prison for men in Concord on Dec. 22. Mott says he used methamphetamine to help get off heroin. Elodie Reed / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 12/31/2016 8:07:57 PM

James Mott knew people who tweaked when they used methamphetamine, hearing voices and seeing things that weren’t there.

But Mott, who started using methamphetamine as a way to wean himself off heroin, said the synthetic stimulant never made him act “weird.”

Explaining how the drug made him feel, the 31-year-old Concord man compared it to liquid courage.

“For me it was ... say you walk into a bar and you talk to that cute chick across the bar, and you’re nervous,” he explained. “You get a few drinks and you can go up and talk.

“That’s the way it was for me,” he added. “I could use it and I was invincible. I didn’t fear anything.”

After about a decade of IV heroin use and multiple attempts at different rehab programs, Mott was introduced to meth one summer. He found that the powerful, addictive stimulant helped ease his cravings for heroin and kept withdrawal sickness at bay.

“(It) definitely gave me the motivation, it took away any withdrawal symptoms,” he said. “It worked for me. Towards the end, I wasn’t even using heroin, I was using methamphetamine.”

Mott said he used meth every day for a year.

His habit ended abruptly on July 1, with him burying himself in attic insulation in an attempt to hide from Concord police, who were searching the Perley Street house where he and others were making the drug using the “one pot” method.

“My use graduated to an almost-dangerous level,” he said. “I could put down more than your average person.”

At that point, he could shoot an “eight ball” – or 3.5 grams – of meth per day.

Tall and thin, with prominent cheekbones and his brown hair clipped short, Mott is currently serving his second sentence in the New Hampshire State Prison and waiting for a trial date on charges that he manufactured methamphetamine and stored and disposed of meth waste products in the same residence that a child lived in.

Mott recently agreed to be interviewed about his history of drug use. He declined to talk about the Perley Street incident because his case is ongoing.

Sitting in a tiny interview room at the prison, Mott said he hopes his story can help deter young people who might be starting to use drugs.

“I might not be able to help tons of people, but if it’s just one kid to take my experience and change themselves and prevent them from sitting here, talking to you,” he said.

Raised in neighboring Hopkinton, Mott graduated from Hopkinton High School and went to college in Colorado for a couple years.

He was an avid outdoors enthusiast, training to become a professional skier.

“I was big into sports,” he said. “I never really wanted to grow up, so I was in outdoor leadership. I was big into rock climbing, alpine skiing.”

Before he started using heroin, Mott was a recreational drug user, smoking marijuana and drinking beer on weekends, occasionally using cocaine and hallucinogenic mushrooms.

“Other than that, I was a pretty late bloomer,” he said.

Mott was in his early twenties when he started using heroin – shooting the drug intravenously.

“There’s just that one day where you basically rely on it to function,” he said of the opiate. “It creeps up on you before you know it.”

Mott tried different rehab programs including the Farnum Center in Manchester and Bethlehem’s Friendship House.

“They’re great, but you get out of them what you put in, and I was a young kid,” he said. “I didn’t want to get sober.”

In addition to residential treatment, Mott also went to Concord Metro, the local methadone clinic. Methadone is an opioid that is used for medically assisted treatment – helping block withdrawal symptoms for opiate addicts. However, many patients must travel to methadone clinics every day to receive a dose of the drug.

Mott went to Concord Metro for two years. Gradually, his methadone dose was raised to 240 milligrams, which took him four months to detox from. He said withdrawing from the drug was worse than heroin.

So when he tried crystal meth for the first time, Mott felt it was the right counterbalance to his heroin use.

“They’re both very powerful drugs, but for me to function, I’d rather stay up for a week at at time than sleep all day,” he said. “I could eat, function, sleep.”

Mott said he has been diagnosed with ADHD as a kid. He was prescribed attention deficit medications like Ritalin and Adderall, which both contain amphetamine – a chemical cousin of meth.

“I had been ADHD my whole life,” Mott said. “Not that it makes it right, but I definitely self-medicated.”

Mott spends his days in prison reading, working out and volunteering for an intensive outpatient treatment program. 

He has a job shoveling snow in winter and mowing lawns and clipping flowers in summer.

“It pays a buck a day, at least it’s something,” he said. “Better than sitting around, doing nothing.”

He said he’s found a good group of guys that help keep him focused, but the specter of addiction can still rear its head.

“Here I am, my second prison visit,” Mott said, “and I’m not going to lie, days go by where I think about using all the time, which is scary. That’s addiction in a nutshell.”

He is taking things one day at a time, and says he finds the routines of prison help keep him grounded. He hasn’t thought too much about the future, but knows that whatever comes next will be a big change.

“I’m 31,” he said. “When I leave here, I’ll be starting over from scratch. Wouldn’t be the first time this has happened, but what else can I do, besides pick myself up and walk.”

(Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, enilsen@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @ella_nilsen. Elodie Reed contributed to this report.)




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