Whitehall News

Tide turning in resident's battle against heroin

Arrested and sent to jail last winter, Stefanie Huber now clean, focused on her daughter

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Whitehall resident Stefanie Huber, arrested on a drug charge in January, has completed rehab at Maryhaven.

Whitehall-Yearling High School graduate Stefanie Huber knows she has to make amends for the lies she told while under the influence of heroin and hopes her successful completion of a program at Maryhaven -- and her efforts to continue treatment -- prove it.

Huber, 26, a 2006 graduate of Whitehall-Yearling, on July 7 completed a program at Maryhaven, a treatment and rehabilitation center on Alum Creek Drive. She had resided there since June 18.

"I knew I was either going to, one, go back (to drugs), or two, go to jail, or three, not even be here anymore. That's how it is with addiction," said Huber, who was clean 59 days upon her release from the program and remains clean today, but knows too well the strength of the drug's pull.

"You still get the temptation. You forget the pain (to yourself and others) and remember only the good, that high," she said.

Huber continues to report weekly to Maryhaven -- sometimes more than once a week if the urge is there -- while waiting to get into a post-rehabilitation program.

"It is frustrating how long it can take, when you want the help, to get into programs," she said.

Huber has been ordered to appear Aug. 26 in Whitehall Mayor's Court, where she will report her progress to a magistrate who could order Huber to serve the remainder of a 90-day jail sentence.

ThisWeek Whitehall News has been following Huber's story since she was arrested Jan. 30 on a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug-abuse instruments. Rather than ask for her case to be transferred to Franklin County Municipal Court, she opted to have the case heard Feb. 4 in Mayor's Court, where her mother, Susan Starr Smith, lobbied for the magistrate to jail Huber to compel her to get the help she said her daughter needed.

The magistrate granted Huber's early release March 18 on the condition she enter a rehabilitation center and other requirements. She was in Mayor's Court in April and had several hearings continued until her Aug. 26 date.

Since completing her rehabilitation, Huber said her focus has been on her 5-year-old daughter, Amiyah Ratfiff.

Prior to and after her two weeks at Maryhaven, Huber has lived either with her friend, Andrea, or with the family of Amiyah's father.

"He's my best friend," Huber said about Amiyah's father, who regularly visited Huber at the jail.

The six weeks Huber spent in jail represent her only incarceration, and she had no criminal record prior to her arrest in January.

"I never want to go back (to jail) again," said Huber, who missed her daughter's 5th birthday in March and vowed then never again to miss such events because of her addiction.

"I can't believe I resented (getting treatment) last time, but I was kind of being forced into it," Huber said of a failed attempt at rehabilitation last year.

Huber and Smith, 52, cooperate in raising Amiyah. Smith said she is thrilled with her daughter's progress and appearance, and Huber added she gained about 15 pounds in June and early July.

Huber and Smith keep each other and their own friends updated via social media.

Smith maintains partial custodial rights to Amiyah. There is a hearing in late September in family court to reconsider her custody, Smith said.

Huber works at a Whitehall restaurant where she held a job several years ago, Smith said.

"I am working towards getting my own apartment," Huber said. "I don't want to have to worry about money."

Huber said she will continue to rely on her sponsor whenever needed.

"I have a lot to make up for, but a lot to be thankful for."