State Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, hugs Monica Farris, who spoke about her recovery Thursday during International Overdose Awareness Day activities in Port Angeles. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

State Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, hugs Monica Farris, who spoke about her recovery Thursday during International Overdose Awareness Day activities in Port Angeles. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Former addicts tell of journeys to health at Port Angeles overdose awareness walk

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PORT ANGELES — Jeffery Haley was dead for more than three minutes after overdosing on heroin in 2006.

Now, Haley is celebrating more than a year drug-free.

“The only thing that fixed me was learning about my adversary, how it was overcoming my brain and how it was hijacking my thoughts,” Haley told some 300 people who attended the International Overdose Awareness Day walk in Port Angeles on Thursday evening.

“The only thing that gave me power over that was learning how it was killing me so that I could get a defense against it.”

The walk, organized by the Port Angeles Citizen Action Network and Oxford House, started at the steps of the Clallam County Courthouse on Lincoln Street and ended at Port Angeles City Pier.

Haley told the crowd at City Pier that the only thing that’s going to help slow illegal drug use is to spread awareness and education about drugs.

Haley had used drugs for 25 years and spent time in prison but has been living at Oxford House and is helping start a new Oxford House in Port Angeles.

Haley, who made Peninsula College’s president’s list, is interning at a treatment facility, where he said he is doing what he can to help other addicts break the cycle.

“I think complacency kills us,” he said. “When you walk out of the gas station and you see three people dope-sick, scrolling through their phones trying to figure out how to steal some money to get high, and that becomes the norm to you, something needs to change.”

Monica Farris told the crowd she realized she needed to get clean two years ago, when her brother died from a heroin overdose. Her children had already been in foster care for six months when she lost her brother.

“At that point, I knew I had to break the cycle of addiction,” she said.

Her children, who are ages 15 and 10, saw her in active addiction for three years, she said.

“My kids have seen way too much,” Farris said. “They saw me at my worst. I lost all trust with my kids.”

But she turned her life around after working with a treatment program, Child Protective Services and the Department of Corrections, she said.

If she can do it, there’s hope for others, Farris said.

State Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, told the crowd he has worked to break his family’s cycle of addiction.

“I don’t know a lot of my relatives, but I don’t know of any who didn’t struggle with addiction of some sort throughout their entire adult life,” he said.

“That’s the cycle that I tried to work very hard in my family to try to break.”

Chapman lost his father, who died from a cocaine-induced heart attack, when he was 11. Over the next 42 years, Chapman said he never stopped missing or loving his father.

Chapman said that when his first son was born, he was lost, questioning how he was going to be a father.

“I became a dad for the first time after not having a dad growing up,” he said. “I struggled.”

He said losing his father was a tragedy but that he “actually seemed like a pretty cool guy when he wasn’t battling his addiction.”

“We never quit loving those who are in our lives, even when they struggle,” Chapman said. “We’ve all lost, but we never quit loving them.”

Chapman represents the 24th Legislative District, which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.

He told those who attended he is fighting for them in Olympia.

Chapman said the county has taken steps to battle addiction. It was one of the first to start a drug court program in the state and was the first to have mandatory overdose reporting.

“These are issues, as your representative in the political arena, I want you to know that you have a champion fighting for you in Olympia every day,” he said.

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

Da’Dai Mendoza, 3, holds a sign during International Overdose Awareness Day activities in Port Angeles on Thursday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Da’Dai Mendoza, 3, holds a sign during International Overdose Awareness Day activities in Port Angeles on Thursday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

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