by Jessica Snyder
Veteran, husband, parent, heavy civil construction superintendent…drug addict. Jason Cotten, 38, is not what most people think of when they picture someone addicted to fentanyl.
“The picturesque image of a junkie or addict is dirty, doesn’t have a job, doesn’t have anything going for them. You know, just kind of down on their luck, for lack of a better word. I like to think I have a pretty good work ethic and the way I approach my work is that I can’t have my life without my work because it affords me to be able to do everything I need to do with my family,” Cotten said “That being said, it didn’t seem that I fit that slot of an addict.”
Cotten always enjoyed taking pain medication for as long as he can remember. However, it was not something he felt he needed to do all the time. It was not something he sought after on a regular basis, he just did them if they happened to be around.
After the company he worked with for 16 years went out of business and he had to seek work with a new company, his drug use escalated, and he started seeking out 30-milligram Percocet. According to his wife, Courtney Cotten, the last two months are where his drug use escalated to the point of using four to six pills per day.
“That is anywhere from 120 to 180 milligrams every single day,” Courtney said. “He was spending close to $2,000 a month on it.”
Percocet coming across the border from Mexico are being cut with the synthetic drug, fentanyl, which is deadly in a dose as small as 1/64 of a baby aspirin
Jason and Courtney Cotten are a well-off family who have two children: Annalicia, 18 and John, 5. They both work hard, bring in decent money and are in the process of purchasing a house.
The shame that Jason feels from allowing this to take over his life and hurt his family is what cuts the deepest.
“It’s embarrassing because I’m not that person. I’m not the quote, unquote junkie. To actually look at yourself and realize that you are that person, just in different clothing and different image, it’s embarrassing.”
For Courtney, she struggles with being a supportive wife and mother while helping Jason navigate through this experience.
“Trust for sure is a big one. You literally trust your significant other with everything and I feel like I can’t trust him with anything. It’s not like I can’t trust him with John, or going to work – it’s can I trust him to not veer off the path and go pick more up? Can I trust him not to get more pills? Can I trust him not to spend more money? You know, that kind of thing,” Courtney said.
“A lot of it for me is building boundaries because for the last 15 years, I haven’t had any, and now I have to have some. I don’t know how to have boundaries with the person that half of me still fully, openly trusts; even though I know that’s stupid. I mean, it may not be stupid but part of me feels like I need to be prepared in case the other shoe drops at some point,” Courtney said.
Prescription pill use does not discriminate. Any person at any time can become addicted. There is an added danger when these drugs are being purchased on the streets as there is such a high probability that it is cut with fentanyl.
As for Jason, he has been sober for 48 days, according to Courtney. However, Jason refuses to count the days.
“I don’t want to focus on that. I don’t want to focus on that time. I want to focus on the rest of my life. This is the rest of my life,” Cotten said.