Nothing, not even three daughters, could stop her from constantly using drugs and drinking. For most of her life she did pretty much anything she wanted, including 12 years as a daily methamphetamine user. But, Jeweleen Lycan says, it was a fateful day in Highland County and Judge Rocky Coss that finally turned it all around.
Her road to recovery started in November of 2015. Lycan was riding around drinking when she was pulled over in Highland County because her vehicle had a headlight out. She was in possession of 16 grams of meth.
A few months later she was sentenced by Coss to her second stint in prison, this time for 30 months, with the stipulation that the state would not oppose judicial release to the STAR residential treatment program after Lycan had served six months.
“Honestly, it was a blessing. I had the opportunity to get pulled out of that scene. It took me out of everything I ever knew and loved,” the 43-year-old Lycan said.
She had spent 11 months in prison before, but went right back to her old ways. It wasn’t until Coss granted to her early release after to STAR that something finally clicked.
“I wanna thank Judge Rocky Coss for sending me to STAR. That place saved my life,” Lycan said. “It’s on an individual basis, and it wasn’t until I lost everything and was in total despair did I come to believe that I needed to make a change. Though councilors and intense group therapy, have I been able to come to terms with my disease and in understanding that if I use again the beast will be let loose, and my life as I’ve came to know it will be over. I’m just so tired of that life. All the pain and self-inflicted trauma is something I may never get over, but by learning about my own personal triggers I can learn how to keep fighting and not give into the temptation of this spiritual and physical addiction.”
Earlier this month Lycan celebrated three years of sobriety. Judging from her prior life, it’s hard to believe she lived long enough to come so far.
She said she was an Army brat, exposed to a lot of drinking, but only saw the fun side of it. Her family was living in California, where she was involved in gymnastics, but in fifth grade she moved back to Ohio.
“Growing up around the military, I felt I was better than civilians. That’s kind of what you’re taught,” Lycan said. “But when I got to Ohio, I had no friends, no gymnastics anymore, and I just felt miserable.”
In the sixth grade she took her first drink. “It was a tall boy, and I only had one, but I remember wanting more,” she said.
By the time she was 13 she said she was going to Grateful Dead concerts, doing acid, smoking weed and drinking on the weekends. Her mom was divorced by then, working two jobs, and Lycan said they lived in a bad area of Lebanon.
“Mom was never home and me and my little sister did whatever we wanted as long as we were home by 10,” Lycan said.
Lycan said that as early as seventh grade, she sold “white crosses,” a form of stimulant. She continued to live a partying lifestyle, but it wasn’t until she was 26 that she got her first taste of meth.
“All of sudden I was like super mom,” she said. “I could work nights and take care of my baby during the day. I started having to work night shift, and not wanting my baby to go to daycare, that’s how I got hooked on it. I was in love with it the first time I did it.”
She was fairly skinny anyway, Lycan said, and at first she lost a good bit of weight. But she said the drug didn’t have the ravaging effect on her that it has on most people.
“It calmed me down. I could handle it, where most people would be bugging out and stuff,” Lycan said. “I thought I was fine, but I wasn’t.”
Sometimes when she “hustling,” Lycan said, she traded heroin for meth. She said she didn’t use heroin, but one time when she was detained a capsule of it rolled out of her purse and onto the floor of a truck. That cost her 11 months in prison.
“All I could think about was getting out and getting high again,” Lycan said. “I held onto this thought that I wouldn’t need it like I used to.”
But she was wrong. After she got out in 2013 and started using again, she said it got to the point she couldn’t do anything. She said she’d get out of bed to eat, then go back to bed. She said she was doing two to three grams of meth a day, costing her about $100 a day. She said she made money by “hustling,” and for about 10 years worked as a stripper — when she also drank heavily.
“My life was like nothing to live for. I was miserable,” Lycan said. “I was all by myself and had lots of dope. I had no friends. My family couldn’t stand me ‘cause I tweeked out on them all the time. The people around me were only around me because I had dope.”
Something changed, though, when Coss sent her to prison. She ran every day, did yoga four times a week, took NA and AA classes, read the Bible, and said she kept her headphones on all the time so she didn’t have to hear all the “crap” going on around her.
After six months in prison the second time, Coss decided to let her try STAR. She said she had to wait another month until a bed became available at STAR, but she didn’t mind because she knew that’s what she needed. She said it changed her life, reminded her how to be a human being again, and how to communicate with people. She said classes she had to take, and the discipline of getting up at 5 a.m. and going to bed at 9 a.m. made all the difference.
“The discipline was what I needed because I did absolutely whatever I wanted my whole life,” Lycan said. “I did Grateful Dead shows every summer, then I did raves. Anywhere there was a party, I was there.”
She was at STAR for five and half months, then decided to spend another 90 days at a different rehab facility. After that she said she really had no place to go. She said her baby’s father had hooked up with one of her former girlfriends, and she couldn’t go back to her mother’s home in Blanchester because she would end up back around the same old people.
So, she spent another year at a rehab facility that was less strict.
Today, she has her own apartment in the Cincinnati area, with a scholarship that helps with her bills. She said she has a part-time job cleaning hotel rooms. She volunteers at an animal rescue and another place that works with therapy animals. She regularly attends NA and AA meetings. She does yoga. And she goes to church. She said she was baptized a year ago on Mother’s Day.
“I have hope now,” Lycan said. “Before I was in despair, miserable. Now I have hope inside me.”
She also still has her issues. She said that due to her addiction, she basically lost her three daughters, ages 23, 18 and 15.
“For me, I had to be physically taken out of my environment and sat down for 18 months,” Lycan said. “There’s nothing you can say to somebody unless they want to change. It takes discipline and being humbled. That’s what prison did to me. I had to let go of everything I knew. My old life was not the way.”
Now, despite daily battles, Lycan said she tries to be a shining light. She said that if there are people out there that really to change, there is hope.
“If I can do it, anyone can,” she said. “My life has completely changed. It was an illusion. I had to be shown that.”
“I just wanna put as much positivity and hope out there as possible for the people who want to change,” she added. “(You) can’t make anyone change unless they want to, so I’m just trying to live by example and pray my story can touch even just one person.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.