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SHEPHERDSVILLE - Mount Washington resident Thrissie Dohn traveled the longest road to the Bullitt County Partners in Prevention community meth forum.
Dohn was one of the event’s headline speakers along with Bullitt County Drug Task Force director Kenny Hardin.
Along with Hardin’s experience and expertise in meth production and its effects, Dohn featured a first-hand view of the meth lifestyle and how it controlled her life for several years.
Dohn said she grew up in a loving family, a model student and basketball player graduating with honors and receiving a full college scholarship.
“Meth... is not a respecter of persons,” she said.
Dohn started with alcohol and other drugs, eventually leading to seven years of meth use and its relating consequences.
“I can remember it like it was five minutes ago,” she said. “My mom saying it leads to other things, thinking she was crazy.”
After losing her scholarship with a 1.7 grade-point average, Dohn entered her first treatment center at age 18. She attended eight more centers through the years, along with three halfway houses and a psychiatric unit, and served two years in prison.
Dohn also lost her home, living at times in a car and in a boat parked in a garage. She lost custody of three children.
“I’ve stayed in many places not suited for rats,” she said. “I could not stop using meth or any other drug.”
Dohn discussed her desperate situation of needing more cash for more drugs, resulting in her prison time for stealing purses in grocery stores.
“In two seconds I would steal your purse and be out the door,” she said. “I’d have another user distract you. I didn’t care about security cameras.”
Dohn warned property owners to always lock houses, sheds and garages.
“Anything we can take to a pawn shop we’re going to steal,” she said. “We think for hours of ways to get money. I would’ve killed somebody for another hit of this drug... and I mean literally.”
Dohn referred to the term, “grandiosity,” the dangerous state of mind that led her to believe she was invincible.
Grandiosity led Dohn to believe she was a competent driver. She once wrecked her car with a child in it. She would also persuade other parents to leave children at her home because she believed herself to be a superior chaperone.
“We think we’re the best mother,” she said. “I thought if my kids were in my home they were safer. We’re good at manipulation, we’re con artists.”
Dohn even recalled a time when meth users tried to make one another overdose just to learn what the human limits were.
The beginning of Dohn’s turnaround began in the summer of 2007 with her lowest point, when her two-week-old son was taken from her by Child Protection Services.
“I’m in the middle of planning my death,” she admitted. “I asked God so many times for sobriety. I couldn’t stop. It had me.”
Dohn then received a call from her mother, Denise Wadlington, who hadn’t made contact in over a year.
“Mom said she dreamed for a week about me dying,” said Dohn. “She asked me how I was doing. I started crying. Mom talked me into long-term treatment.”
Dohn has been drug-free for almost two years. She is a University of Louisville student focusing on a major in Justice Administration and a minor in Psychology.
“I’m willing to do whatever to get drugs off the streets,” she said.
Dohn also received custody of her two sons, ages 4 and 2.
“I’m married to a wonderful man,” she added. “He doesn’t even really know about my addiction, bless his heart.”
Dohn also has a relationship with her 12-year-old daughter, Kaley, who lives with Wadlington.
“My relationship with my Mom, that’s the most important thing out of all of it,” said Dohn. “I wanted to be sober before she died, so she’d know.”
During the event Kaley read a letter she had written at age 9 to Dohn, who was still in rehab at the time.
“I can’t remember writing this letter but I remember the pain that I felt,” Kaley said, thanking those in attendance for their attention and interest in the problems associated with meth.
Wadlington also spoke during the event, saying focus needed to remain on how to solve the meth situation.
“There’s not a perfect way, you can’t lock them all up,” she said. “We have to deal with prevention. We have to be more aware.”
Wadlington warned to keep an eye on loved ones, despite your feelings not to believe that there are issues.
“We were involved... but we still didn’t know,” she said. “As parents you love your children so much that sometimes you just can’t see it.”
Wadlington encouraged parents to “be snoopy, like a detective,” even if you trusted the children.
“Anybody’s child can end up like Thrissie did,” she said. “Kaley knows this. If they get mad at you, it’s no big deal, they’ll get over it, but if you lose them...”
Dohn’s issues began at age 16 with alcohol. She paid $50 for fake identification, knew all the places that would not card underage drinkers and attended parties in homes with parents that allowed alcohol.
Wadlington could not believe her daughter had issues. She eventually had Dohn visit two psychiatrists, but Dohn fooled them as well.
“The only times I got caught were when I was drinking, because others saw it,” said Dohn. “At the time my (basketball) team suspended me for two games, that was all.”
Now, at age 32, Dohn still deals with physical and psychological issues. She admitted seeing a meth sample in person during the event even had an effect.
“If I don’t keep on my toes with it... you always know what it feels like,” she said.
Kaley’s letter to Dohn:
I love you very much and miss you too and I am glad that you are in a rehab, but I think you need to stay in there longer than 28 days because that is not long enough for you to straighten up! I would be even more happy if you stayed there longer like 12 months, I don’t care how long it takes and think of what you could become - a doctor, a teacher or a dentist, and a lot of other things. You still have a chance to start a new life and I would be very proud if you did. After you get out of the rehab you need to go to a halfway house for a year... I know that’s kind of weird but it’s worth a try! You would be closer, too. Do this for everybody and most of all for me and I have confidence in you, I really do!