Klamath Falls Herald & Tribune, June 29, 2013
One mother’s story: Cheryl Perez has spent the last few years dealing with her son’s methamphetamine addiction. She hopes that by telling her story, she can let her community know that families dealing with the stress of addiction are not alone.
With a knife to her throat, Cheryl Perez pleaded with her son.
“Jason, come on,” she said with all the calm she could muster. With a free hand, she reached for the phone next to her and dialed 911.
Jason Isaac Page, 26, closed the knife and walked around the chair to face his mother.
“Fine, I’ll do myself,” he said to her. Again, she pleaded with him.
“Come on, I don’t want to bury you,” she told him. Page began to break down. With sadness in his eyes, he looked at her.
“I want help. I want help,” he said.
Then police arrived and took Page away in handcuffs. It was a shocking event for the mother of a methamphetamine-addicted son, but she saw it coming.
For Perez, Klamath County’s problem with methamphetamine addiction has become a real experience not typically told in headlines and court documents. She has witnessed how the drug has torn through her son’s life and brought crime to her neighborhood.
She also has experienced the downward spiral for low income, uninsured addicts.
It began when Page was a boy, Perez said. After separating with her husband, Perez would later find out that Page had started drinking at the age of 10. Alcohol was his gateway to marijuana, heroin and eventually methamphetamine, she said.
Page moved to Portland in his 20s to live with his brother. That’s when Perez thinks Page began using. In Portland, relatives began noticing strange behaviors. Page once hung sheets to separate a living room into four parts so he could rent the space.
He then moved to Klamath Falls, where he began stealing for drug money, Perez said. Page would take his girlfriend’s disability benefits and use the money to buy drugs,she said. The downward spiral all led to the night Page came over begging for food.
Perez could tell he was coming down. He showed up at Perez’s apartment asking for food. She wouldn’t let him in at first, but he began yelling outside her door. Eventually she let him in and gave him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and milk.
She sat in the chair as he ate, waiting for him to finish. He pulled out a knife and said, “It’s time.”
Recovery a tough road
The exits from addiction are difficult for low-income, uninsured drug users. Transformations Wellness Center provides four indigent beds for two men and two women; anyone unable to pay can utilize the residential treatment center for no cost.
But the waiting list is at least six months long. Executive Director Sandy Boatright said most clients seeking transformations’ services cannot pay.
“Being the only nonprofit provider in the county, we swallow the cost. But we still need money to run,” Boatright said.
Boatright recommends people without insurance begin with the Oregon Health Plan. Low-income Oregonians can apply for the plan online.
From there, she recommends they utilize local services like Narcotics Anonymous, the Klamath Crisis Center and Klamath Youth Development Center.
Perez hopes she can stop the vicious cycle of addiction that is tearing her son apart. Page is being held at the Klamath County Jail on numerous charges.
Regretfully sought a restraining order on Page, but said is necessary. After having a mental breakdown because of the stress her son has caused her, she hopes he can be sent to a state hospital for treatment.
“Deep down, he’s a loving child,” she said.