Whitehall News

At 'rock-bottom,' jailed addict looks to Amiyah for inspiration

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When Amiyah Ratliff celebrates her 5th birthday Wednesday, March 12, it is almost certain her mother won't be there to celebrate it.

From the confines of the Franklin County Correction Center, Stefanie Huber pledged it will be the only birthday she will miss.

"I color a picture for my daughter every day," Huber said Friday, Feb. 28. Huber, 26, of Whitehall is serving a 90-day sentence for a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug-abuse instruments.

"It's no one's fault but my own," said Huber, calling her first experience in jail "a wake-up call" unlike any other.

But she questioned the tactics of her mother, Susan Smith, who Feb. 4 lobbied the magistrate in Whitehall Mayor's Court to keep Huber in jail. She also said she regrets not asking for legal representation at the hearing, where, without a public defender or legal representation, she pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge.

She has no prior criminal record in Franklin County.

"I love my mom dearly, I do, but how she is going about this -- I'm really bitter about that. I can't believe it. I would never do this to my own daughter," said Huber.

She said her only contact with the outside world is through Amiyah's father, who visits at every opportunity -- each Monday and Friday, the allotted two visitation days based on the first letter of her last name.

Huber said she calls her mother, but she often doesn't answer and conversations usually disintegrate.

Huber said she first took heroin in October 2012, four months after losing her job at a Pickerington physician's office.

She lost her health insurance and access to prescription medication to control anxiety, depression and attention-deficit disorder, she said.

Huber disputed her mother's account that a stressful family life was a contributing factor to her addiction and credited Amiyah's father for trying to get her help for her addiction.

A childhood friend supplied heroin to her, Huber said.

That man and Huber both were arrested Jan. 30 after Whitehall police responded to a report that Huber might be at a residence on Little Flower Lane and conducted a wellness check.

The man arrested with Huber transferred his case to Franklin County Municipal Court and was released the following day. Huber's case stayed in Mayor's Court and she remained in jail until Feb. 4.

Those five days in jail were harrowing, Huber said, both from her environment and what she described as being "dope-sick."

"Puking every day ... I don't wish that on nobody," she said. "That's the devil. Oh my God, the way I feel (today is great). I've gained 15 pounds. But I can't do anything here except wait and try to get by and stay out of the bulls--- the (other) girls do."

Huber said she knows she has turned the corner, because she has turned down a chance to use heroin.

"I've been offered heroin in here (twice). I passed it up and that felt good. That felt so good," she said. "I really said 'no.' If you would have done that to me (the first week in jail), I probably would have taken it."

Huber acknowledges she wasn't ready for help when she entered a program at Maryhaven late last year.

"I didn't take it seriously the first time (at Maryhaven). I wasn't ready. I did it because (Franklin County Children Services required it). I mean, I wanted clean, but I wasn't ready to get clean. I'm ready," said Huber, adding she has seen the difference in other women.

"They go (to rehabilitation) just to get probation off their back. I want to do it for me, for my daughter."

Huber said she was surprised in Mayor's Court when she learned her mother lobbied for a 90-day sentence, as it was different than her behavior during a jail visit the day after her arrest would have indicated.

"I asked my family for help and it backfired," said Huber, who further criticized Smith for what Amiyah has learned about her mother.

"My daughter only thought I was sick, but my mother (told her about the heroin). No 4-year-old needs to hear that," Huber said.

She said has been writing letters in jail seeking to enter a rehabilitation program that could result in an early release, but is finding long waiting lists and other instances where she is asked the identity of her public defender.

Meanwhile, Huber said she keeps focused on Amiyah and making up for what she has missed.

"This was a f------ wake-up call. This is my rock-bottom," she said. "I don't wish this on nobody."

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