PRESTONSBURG – Students poured into the parking lot at Big Sandy Community and Technical College on Monday, August 15. Starting college is rite of passage for most high school students. In today’s economy, many non-traditional students are going back to college. Angie Rowe, of Prestonsburg, is one of those non-traditional students who started college for the first time on August 15. The day was more than just a first day of college for Rowe. It was an accomplishment she never thought was possible two years ago.
At the age of 13, Rowe began smoking marijuana and using cocaine and other chemicals to get high. By the time she was 17, she was an addict that craved the high. Spray paint, LSD, ecstasy she has done it all. At the age of 22, Rowe was introduced to opiates. The occasional pill to get high eventually turned into taking cocktails of 200-300 milligrams of Oxycodone. Nerve pills also became an addiction. After wrecking the only means of transportation she had, and a few scuffles with the law, she knew something had to change.
“I just decided something had to change,” Rowe said. “I knew I needed to set some goals for myself if I was ever going to have anything in life. I was a dedicated drug addict half my life. I didn’t care if I became anything. I knew my destination was death at a young age. I figured I would die of an overdose. I really didn’t care if I lived or died. My life was completely out of control.
Rowe was a single mother raising a young son on her own. In and out of jail was a lifestyle she had become accustomed to. Living with a partner that was not supportive and physically and emotionally abusive, Rowe was beat down. She only had her willpower and inner strength to lift her and her son out of the gutter she had made of her life.
During one of Rowe’s jail visits, she was ordered to participate in Drug Court. Rowe began taking classes and realizing her self-worth. She got out of her abusive relationship and moved to Prestonsburg with her teenage son Jimmy.
“Thanks to Drug Court, my son, my boyfriend, and my loving friends in NA, I realized I can recover from this disease called addiction,” said Rowe. “It may have had a stronghold on me, but I am stronger. I followed the rules and program of drug court. It was there I realized I can become whatever I want – I just have to work for it. Life was not over for me – it is just beginning.”
It was the individuals in drug court that gave Rowe the courage to enroll in college. At one time she didn’t care if she lived or died but now was preparing for a better and brighter future.
“I want to be an inspiration to my son and my granddaughter, Rowe added. “Anyone that is in crisis in addiction I want to inspire them to have the courage to stare addiction in the face and say you can’t control me anymore. It is like a snake that I have slayed. Every day I wonder if the snake is still breathing because addiction takes work and it is not an overnight success. I was once an addict that suffered from depression and lack of self-worth and I finally woke up. I know I have no limitations. As long as I put in the work and trust in God my goals will be accomplished.”
Rowe is now a freshman at Big Sandy Community and Technical College where she majors in Behavioral Science. Jimmy Ernest, her 18-year-old son, is living independently and also attending college and taking care of his daughter Kaitlynn, who is three.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 886-8506.