Editor's Note: This is the first of a two-part story on Hope resident Maggie (Newman) McNicholas and her efforts to recover from drug addiction.

When Maggie (Newman) McNicholas walked into my classroom as a fifth grader, her gifts were many; her future was bright.

Each day, she blossomed. With her passage from fifth grade, I was hopeful of her journey ahead. After Hauser, I started seeing her name in the arrest column of our local newspaper. What happened to this young, vibrant, intelligent ten-year-old girl? Well, she invited me to an addiction graduation at Wheeler Mission in Indianapolis where I heard her story and similar stories from others. I attended with many other family members and friends. She felt fortunate to be able to share because it took six injections of Narcan to revive her at the age of 33.

Her story started with the following statements:

“My faulty decision just continued occurring. In overwhelming sadness, I was stuck and wallowing. Anger and unhappiness had become what I was about. I was feeling trapped; I was a broken down woman. My situation looked hopeless, but I was not without hope because God came for me when I was at the end of my rope. God helped me to overcome so my life could truly take shape.”

Then, she got into her background:

“When I was six weeks old, I was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis which meant I couldn't digest my food. An emergency surgery took care of this life threatening condition.

“I was 2 when my family moved from Connecticut to Indiana. As I grew older, I realized my dad had a drinking problem with his time serving in the Vietnam War likely being a factor. I remember when my parents started arguing about it and taking my brother to my room, turning up the music, and drowning it out.

“I stayed very busy as a kid. I played a lot of sports like softball, basketball, and dance. I lived right down the road from a nursing home and would go in and play bingo or paint the ladies' nails. I was a pretty happy girl for the most part.

“In fifth grade, I had knee surgery due to my kneecap popping out of place. I went through physical therapy and was told running would help build my muscles up and help me avoid problems in the future. I became Hauser's #1 runner and enjoyed it. The running also was a way for me to cope with life and stress.

“My sister started smoking cigarettes with her friends, and I wanted to fit in. I wanted to try one and see what all the hype was about. I remember feeling a little light-headed. More than anything, I felt cool. This started the beginning of my double life.

“I continued running and made all-conference while breaking a record in the 3200. I even went to Amsterdam as a member of the U.S. Sports Ambassador Team. On the weekends though, I would smoke and even drink.

“When I was 15, my mom and dad got a divorce. She tried everything to make it work, but his addiction robbed her joy. It was devastating to me.

“I was enjoying the party scene and began smoking weed and skipping school. I needed a job to pay for my addiction. My running career was over, and my social life was popping!

“One weekend, my mom went out of town. I threw a huge and wild party in our home where things got out of control. I felt ashamed and disgusted afterward.

“My answer was meth, cocaine, and love. Instead of working, I began to sell weed and coke to support my habit. I barely graduated from high school.