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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Todd Brown doesn't miss methamphetamine.

Since February, he has been in the Dixie County Jail, where getting his hands on meth would be nearly impossible. But Brown, 47, wants nothing to do with the drug that he admitted in court to loving more than his family.

Brown is what law enforcement officers call a career criminal, but he wasn't always considered so dangerous to society that a judge may be forced to lock him up for life.

Raised in Thomasville, Ga., Brown went through nearly four decades without touching anything harder than marijuana and alcohol. When he got married in the early 1980s, he stopped smoking and embraced the idea of family life.

He coached little league and made sure his kids had what they needed. As he neared 40, though, he fell in with people who used meth, a drug he had never tried.

"At first I didn't mess with it," he said. "Then I tried it - I shouldn't have - and it's been downhill ever since."

But his first hit of meth - or any hit after that - wasn't a sweet, dizzy pleasure that left every nerve aching for more.

"I didn't like it all," he said. "It kept me up for a couple days."

Brown's first taste didn't make him an addict. A year later, he poured most of his savings into an auto repair business, but inspectors told him he would have to wait more than a year to operate because of zoning.

"I said to myself, 'I can't stay here and make no money,'" he said. So he ran the shop at night to stay under the radar, and instead of installing an espresso machine, Brown turned to the drug he knew would keep him alert through long nights.

"I bought some from [a friend], and there it went," he said.

Within a month, Brown was spending $1,000 a week on meth, and what started out as a twice-daily habit became something that consumed him once an hour.

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"It was everything," he said. "All day long."

Soon, maintaining the high became too expensive, and Brown began cooking meth in the woods with a friend who showed him how to make it with anhydrous ammonia.

"We couldn't do it inside," he said. "We wouldn't be able to breathe. That stuff'll knock you down."

After nine months of using, Brown began a spiral of arrests that would drag him through probation, jail, rehab and finally federal prison.

Although he was no longer making methamphetamine, jail time and rehab couldn't dampen the romance between Brown and his drug.

While packing after an 18-month stay in a rehab clinic, Brown found about a gram of meth - less than a day's high. He took a hit and confessed to his sponsor, and the find from his jacket pocket landed him an 11-month stay in federal prison.

He was released in January of 2009, and was almost immediately getting high in the bathroom of a halfway house.

Less than a month later, he and Weeks were caught after leading police on ecstasy-frenzied chase.

Since February, Brown has waited. He began taking anti-depressants after a mental-health evaluation determined that he suffers from bipolar disorder and thinks the medicine will help keep him clean when - if - he is released.

For now, Brown waits for the axe to fall and determine the rest of his life. He reflects on his tenure as a drug addict, during which he chose to forsake his family in favor of a destructive drug and a woman meth made him believe he loved more than his wife.

But despite the urge to fight for his family, Brown refuses to let his wife be married to a prisoner forever.

"I've told her if I get another 10 or 15, I'm going to file for divorce," he said. " She needs to go on and get over me."

Inconsistent with the drug addict who cried "rock bottom," Brown is saying it for the first time now after eight years of destruction at the hands of a monster named methamphetamine.

"I went from Disney world and family vacations to a dopehead," he said. "It's quick. You go down real quick."

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