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Escaping crystal meth in Wesson

By Bob Arnold

Escaping crystal meth in Wesson
Hart sells soaps at flea markets.

Crystal meth – the common name for crystal methamphetamine – is a strong, highly addictive drug with no legal use that affects the central nervous system. Also called “ice” or “glass” because it comes in clear chunks or shiny blue-white rocks, it is a popular party drug, usually smoked with a small glass pipe, and sometimes swallowed, snorted or injected into a vein.

First-time users may get hooked right from the start after experiencing a quick rush of euphoria, feelings of pleasure, confidence and energy; and becoming hyper-aware and sensitive to noises, smells and visual stimulants. As they continue to use the drug, they build up tolerance and need higher doses for the same effects. As their addiction grows, they forget hunger and thirst, with the drug at the center of their lives.

As the drug works its seeming magic for those who crave the feelings it produces, it also damages the body and causes severe psychological problems. Lives of addicts crumble with economic losses and homelessness because they cannot – and do not want to – function on jobs; and their health deteriorates due to lack of self-care, including medical care, and to the drug itself, which can cause heart and lung damage, dental, skin and eye problems, cramps, insomnia, twitching and restlessness, among physical effects; and paranoia and psychosis characterized by auditory, visual and physical hallucinations.

Eleven years ago, Chasity Hart – now a busy married mother of a 17-year old son and 15-year-old daughter who works full-time in Co-Lin’s maintenance department and part-time in several other jobs while starting an artisan business as a soap maker – was in the grips of Crystal meth and its downward spiral.

In 2012, she came to a residential ministry for women that the New Beginnings Worship Center at Martinsville, Mississippi, ran at Wesson, where she says “I found Jesus, and learned how to be saved and loved rather than depending on a substance.”

“Coming to Wesson saved my life,” Hart affirms.

Until 11 years ago, Hart lived all around Wesson in South Central Mississippi, with a brief interlude in Alabama.

Suffice it to say, she recalls an “unpleasant childhood” in “a dysfunctional family.” Hart, her mother and two sisters experienced life without a strong male presence. With her two older sisters, she moved from community to community with her parents, and sometimes lived with relatives. Whether it was the different changes in schools or the nature of the institution, she did not like school and quit after completing the ninth grade.

Ironically, dropping out of school led to some of Hart’s happiest days as a youth as a resident of the federal Job Corps facility at Crystal Springs. Encouraged by her mother and sister, she applied for the program for youth and young adults from low-income families. Within an environment that provided housing, meals and care for personal needs, she spent two years there starting at age 16 in career studies, including a Business Office Technology course and Certified Nursing Assistant classes, and earned a high school graduation equivalency diploma. She also met her first husband there.

With her then husband, she moved to Alabama, worked at the Washington County Hospital Infirmary and started her family, but returned to South Central Mississippi after a divorce where she fell into a drug-centered life.

“I wanted to be around family, but found friends that turned out to be the wrong crowd,” Hart relates. She also found crystal meth, and started a two-year spiral downward, interspersed with some failed attempts at rehabilitation.

“My situation was pretty ugly,” she recalls. “A communal living situation with friends not much better off than I. No work. Food stamps. I blamed others for my problems, didn’t keep sober company and made the wrong choices trying to manage my life alone.”

Finally, Hart’s older sister Brenda stepped in. “She came to where I was living in Lawrence County, packed me up and extracted me,” she recounts. She took her to New Beginnings Worship Center’s Elizabeth House in Wesson.

Unlike the hospitals and other voluntary organizations where she tried to find help for her addiction, Elizabeth House offered no medications to make rehab less painful. “They gave me a Bible and told me ‘it’s all here,’” she says. “There were also worship services twice a week, Bible studies, Godly people with whom I could talk and a wonderful counselor – Teresa Veramontez – who helped me spiritually and practically. But for two weeks before I finally opened the Bible and started reading, it was a living hell.”

Over the course of a year, Hart says she did a lot of soul-searching. “I took the first step to get help in recognizing I needed a savior, that I couldn’t do it myself and finding the love of Jesus to change my life,” she says.

When Hart moved out of Elizabeth House to a small house of her own just down the street, she faced a multitude of practical problems around supporting herself and two children and figuring out how to live, but one important thing had changed: she no longer depended on Crystal meth. Jesus’ love helped her make the right choices. She took her first real job at Shop ‘n Wash, where she helped prepare food, interacted with its grocery-shopping customers, checked out shoppers at cash registers and, in the process, learned about the working world’s values – being on time, business ethics and sacrifice. She also fell in love with Freddie Hart, a local carpenter, whom she married in 2017. Hart’s new life has continued to evolve.

Today, Hart is part of the cleaning crew at Co-Lin, helps run Uncle Rays eatery, bait shop and convenience store across from the entrance to Lake Lincoln State Park on weekends and is trying to turn an interest in soaps and soap making into a local artisan business.

Hart’s Essential Soaps, which she started in July, grew out of her reading interest in soap making and experimenting with melting-and-pour soaps – existing soaps with added ingredients. In her new business, Hart is making cold-processed soaps for sensitive skin and fragranced soaps from scratch with oils, lye and goat’s milk – her major additive. She produces about 50 bars of soap per week, which she sells to a customer base including 130 Facebook followers and patrons of various area flea markets.

With Jesus, Hart, at 36 years old, has moved beyond a rough childhood and youth and Crystal meth to a new positive life in Wesson.

What are your hobbies?

I try to share the story of my recovery to help give other people hope and find the way out of their situations, whatever they are. I go to church, but am not an active member of Little Bahala Baptist Church. I maintain the New Found Hope Recovery Today website to encourage those who need motivation and strength in dealing with their issues. It’s a public page with 314 followers, which used to sponsor meetings at Elizabeth House in Wesson. Other than that, it’s all work for me.

Are you a reader?

I mainly read the Bible, although I may pick up something like Duck Dynasty, as I did recently, and get into it.

How about music?

I don’t sing or play an instrument, but I listen to worship music on Pandora and 106.7 rock on my car radio.

What would you do with the winnings if you won the lottery?

I would donate to the Boren Children’s Home, establish a new Elizabeth House in Wesson, and help set up my children for their lives.


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