NORTH JEFFERSON COUNTY, Alabama – For the last five years Robyn Green has had to sleep with her car keys, purse and pain medication under her pillow to keep her daughter Jamie from taking them.
Over the last five years Robyn has lost track of how many nights and days she has kept watch over Jamie at hospital emergency rooms. She can't remember how many police stations and jails she has visited to see Jamie after she was arrested.
And, she can't give you a specific number of how many rehab programs Jamie has been court ordered into only to be kicked out of for violating one rule after another.
What Robyn can tell you is the number 3. That's how many times Jamie has overdosed. The last OD required paramedics to inject adrenalin into her heart to jumpstart it back to beating.
And Robyn Green can tell you this with unshakable certainly: "Jamie will die from this if she does not change."
"This" is heroin addiction.
Robyn is a 56-year-old woman in constant physical and emotional pain. The physical comes from degenerative disc disease that has required nine back surgeries in 15 years and which have left her unable to work full time.
But the physical pain pales compared to the pain caused by Jamie's addiction. Robyn said didn't have a clue about Jamie's addiction until one day she got a call alerting her to some unusual activity on her debit card. She called her bank to check.
"All my money was gone, all of it," Robyn told me. "It was not a lot, several thousand dollars, but it was all I had."
Robyn immediately called her daughter, who had access to her debit card and pin number.
"I asked her what had happened; what did she know. It's the first lie I caught her in, but it was probably not the first one," Robyn told me in a sad voice. Because Jamie lived with her mother and had been given access to the account, Robyn's money was not recoverable.
"I filed charges, but as far as the bank and the sheriff's office were concerned it was not theft since Jamie had access to the account and lived with me," Robyn said. That was in 2009. And since then?
Listen to Robyn talk.
"I can't tell you how many times she has been in jail, in rehab only to get kicked out and end up back on heroin, then more jail. In between there was stealing from me and others to buy her drugs. And with each incident I practiced the tough love thing. I didn't bail her out. I didn't post bond when she was arrested. I didn't condone it and each time she was ordered to rehab I hoped that this time it would work. But it didn't work. Nothing has worked. Nothing."
Last week I told you the story of Traci Spain and her long fight to try to save her son Gary from years of heroin addiction. Gary is also a part of Robyn and Jamie's story because he was the one who was with Jamie when she started using the drug.
"Gary and Jamie had known each other when they were 14 or 15 or so but after that I really didn't see him again until 2009, when Jamie started using heroin," said Robyn. "He was with her the first time she used it. That's when I first met Traci and it wasn't pretty. I was doing a lot of blaming of Gary for what Jamie was doing."
But five years later Robyn is fatalistic about Gary Spain and the role he played in Jamie's life.
"I don't blame Gary now. I know now that Jamie was probably using other drugs before the heroin started and had it not been Gary, it would have been somebody else," Robyn said.
Robyn has not seen Jamie since January when, finally at the end of another rope, she forced her and a friend of hers to leave her home after yet another episode of all the same old stuff – stealing, more lying, more drugs.
"I put them in the car and drove them to Pinson," Robyn said. I asked why Pinson. "Because they said there was an abandoned trailer they knew of and could stay there out of the cold."
"I just can't have her at my home again," said Robyn shaking her head.
This week Robyn got a phone call from a number she didn't recognize. It turned out to be Jamie asking if she could just come home to get some clean clothes. She said she had been robbed and had nothing but the clothes on her back.
"I said no. I just can't do it again," Robyn Green said as she fought back tears. "I can't let my daughter come home. Think about that."
I ask Robyn if she still loved Jamie.
"I do love her. She is from me, a part of me and my girl," she said. I then asked her if she loved her more than she was angry with her.
"I am angry. I'm hurt. I know Jamie will never marry a doctor and never give me grandchildren. I will never have the joys that other mothers have. So, yes I'm very angry."
I asked if Jamie had ever told her mom why she kept taking heroin.
"She told me once that shooting up heroin gave her bliss, that while high nothing bad was going on in her life. It was like being wrapped in a soft cotton blanket," Robyn said.
Toward the end our conversation I asked Robyn what her wish was for her daughter now.
At this point, I just want her to get clean and have a decent life, just a decent life," she told me.
I asked her if she believed that was still possible.
"No. Nothing has worked. Nothing. I spend my life now waiting for the phone to ring and hearing that my daughter is dead. "
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on March 12, 2014 at 7:00 AM, updated March 12, 2014 at 9:59 AM