HOLLI REYNOLDS The Eagle, Austin High School

Editor’s note: This article was published Friday, April 10, in a special issue of The Eagle, the newspaper produced by Austin High School students. Holli Reynolds is a senior.

AUSTIN — National and world news outlets have highlighted local men and women who suffer from addiction. This is a true story about a woman living in the city of Austin who is a drug addict and prostitute.

“I was 15 years old when I first dabbled with drugs. I still remember the place. I started out with oxy. I decided to try it after I saw everyone doing it around me at home, and all my friends were doing it as well. Later, Oxy wasn’t doing the trick. I started shooting up cocaine and once I started that there was no going back. At 17, I started prostituting in order to have money for my addiction. By this time Opana was becoming a big sell in Austin and it was cheap.

“I have never been scared when prostituting. Never have I been scared. I have had some pretty rough experiences doing this such as having my purse stolen, not being paid, being beaten and walking up to 20 miles back into Austin, but the addiction is so strong, I don’t even do it for the high anymore. I do it to not be sick.

“Like I said awhile ago, I did Opanas because they were the cheaper drug and it was the most available drug on the market. Knowing that, the dealers got smarter with the supply and demand method and raised prices because everyone soon became addicted and had to have this drug. There are colors to Opana. There are ... Opanas which can give you a high all day for $120 a pill and ... Opanas cost(ing) $140 a pill. Most of us just buy the drug in quarters and halves so it isn’t as expensive as a full pill and keep us from getting ill. To be able to pay for that, I had to do something. That is why I started prostituting.

“I got in with a group of girls who also prostituted for a living and they taught me how to do it correctly and safely without getting caught by the cops and not catching diseases. I could name over 50 girls off the top of my head who prostitute, and I know there are more.

“My normal day is not like everyone else’s. I do not wake up wondering what I want for breakfast and fun activities that are planned. I don’t even think of myself at all. I wake up sick. I have cramps. I am sweating all over, and I have what feels like 15 knives going into my back from withdrawal. I go get cleaned up, call one of my ‘Sugar Daddies’ to come get me because I need money for my ‘fix,’ which I usually have scheduled ahead of time and work from morning until it is time to go to bed. Sometimes when I go to bed I have met up with over 15 men before returning somewhere to lay my head to sleep.

“I don’t have a place to live, and I am done with this life I am living now. Some days I’d rather be dead than deal with this addiction. No one wants to spend their whole life prostituting and waiting on their next fix.

“Drugs have really taken over my life. I used to blame my addiction on my mom and my friends, but now I blame myself. I am a grown woman and I know perfectly well what I am doing to my body. I don’t want to prostitute and I want my kids back, but without a form of ID, I cannot get into a rehab facility. I tried to get an ID from the facilities given in Austin, but the problem is you have to have two pieces of mail with your name and an address. I don’t have a home, that makes me feel like it’s hopeless for me to even get better.

“I do believe there are many more cases than the 106 positive HIV cases, but no one is going to get tested now because they are scared. If you are tested positive as a prostitute and then caught with man by a cop, they can get you for first-degree murder. Therefore, no woman is getting tested in the business. My thoughts are there are more like around 200 cases in this community. Of course I am scared of getting HIV, but I have to have money in order to survive, and I am being more cautious.

“I believe this whole HIV thing occurred when the state changed the law to a felony if being caught with a needle. People would then just carry their Opana or drug to a house to shoot up and use whatever needle they could find there instead of having a chance of getting caught with a clean needle on them and face time in jail. My friends and I think it originated from someone out of the prison and has been passed around ever since.

“If I could start all over and have my dream life than it would be to have a husband, have my babies back home in a healthy environment with me, not be considered weird. I wish I could just feel normal again, and not wake up ill every day of my life.”

This is her story. Not everyone in Austin wants to be an addict, especially many of the addicts like this woman. They just feel hopeless.

Everyone needs to come together and bring hope back into Austin. We are the next generation. It is our job to stand up and save our community. It’s time to make a change.

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