Mikee Nolan knows the exact date his problems with drugs began.
“My addiction started October 15, 1994,” he said, kicking back in an office chair at A Center 4 Change in Olive Hill, where he had clocked in to work for the first time that morning.
It was his father’s birthday, he explained, and he was on his way to Court Days to buy his dad a gift. Things were looking good for Nolen – He had recently graduated from West Carter High School and been hired to work at Grayson’s ham plant.
Less than two miles from home, his car collided head on with a 3/4-Ton utility truck.
“It almost cut my legs off. I was choppered out and woke up on a morphine pump. I had never touched drugs. I’d never even smoked weed,” he said, later clarifying he and his teen friends had been guilty of buying alcohol from local bootleggers on a few occasions.
“I woke up in an almost full body cast. I was wrapped from the chest down,” he said, citing a list of broken bones and injuries sustained in the accident.
“They wanted to amputate my right leg, but my mom talked them out of it.”
Nolen said he spent a couple of weeks on high doses of morphine before being sent home with prescriptions for morphine and another painkiller, Vicodin (hyrdocodone).
“I don’t recall anybody warning me about anything. It was just medicine.”
After nearly a year of pharmaceuticals and physical rehabilitation, Nolen was released from his doctor’s care with no more medications offered and no resources or guidance to assist the sudden transition to sobriety.
“That’s when I realized something was wrong … I started seeking them (prescription drugs) elsewhere. I bought Hydrocodone. I didn’t realize it was wrong at the time.”
By that point, Nolen said he had exceeded and defied doctor’s predictions that he would likely never again walk normally.
“I was playing basketball. I was 100 percent recovered – it was the aftermath of prescription drugs.”
“I got to the point I was buying pills. When I was 21, I started at Morehead (State University) and I started selling marijuana to buy Percocet (acetaminophen-oxycodone) and hydrocodone.”
Intro To Oxycontin
“I was a party and this girl asked me if I wanted to do an OC. I said, ‘What’s an OC?'” Nolen recalled, adding his new friend assured him he would like it. He decided to give it a try.
“I puked my guts out that night – then called her the next day for more. I forgot all about Hydrocodone and Percocets.”
As his OC consumption increased, his need for cash did the same.
“I started selling cocaine. I needed more money,” he said, noting a single 80mg Oxycontin sold for $100 at that time and he was taking 10 to 15 a day, averaging about one an hour while awake.
Shaking his head, Nolen said he had to have two of the pills crushed and ready to snort, on a plate beneath his bed each morning “just to get out of bed.”
Cocaine & Heroin
“I didn’t do too much cocaine, except to test it when we bought it,” Nolen said. “It was all pills. LOTS of alcohol. And, occasionally Methadone.”
Cocaine paid the bills and also provided Nolen his first encounter with heroin. His lack of knowledge of the substance could have gotten himself and three others killed, he said.
He explained that his cocaine supplier sent a small gift packet of the powder, and cautioned him that it was enough to get several people high.
“I split it into four lines,” he said, explaining he was partying with two girls, both of whom had experience with narcotics, and a male friend who had never taken any kind of opiate.
“He ended up foaming at the mouth, passed out on the couch with us checking to see if he was still breathing,” he said, adding one of the girls began vomiting and got herself under a cold shower, while the other female also dealt with near-overdose symptoms.
“It got me so high my ears were ringing,” Nolen said, confirming he also was unable to control the vomiting the heroin brought on.
His dealer offered him a chance to be among the first to sell heroin in this area, but Nolen said he was certain it would cause overdose deaths. He also feared the legal ramifications of being the person who delivered those lethal doses.
Looking back, Nolen said he’s certain he could have made a lot of money if he had made a different decision. As he was studying business management along with hotel/restaurant management at MSU (with plans to attend culinary school after graduation).
“My clientele was rich college kids.”
Trouble With The Law
As a cocaine dealer, Nolen said he was not particular about who he sold to.
“I would sell to whoever, whatever, whenever,” he said.
One day, the guy in Indianapolis who supplied his cocaine and Oxycontin called Nolen up and said, “They got you.” He asked him to lose his contact information and even forget a debt he owed for a previous cocaine deal.
“I didn’t believe him. Then, three or four weeks later my friends started calling and saying ‘Dude, you’re in the paper for selling cocaine.’ They had me on nine or 10 different trafficking charges.”
Those indictments didn’t show up when Nolen got caught in a police roadblock, and had nearly talked his way out of going to jail even though he his driver’s license had been revoked to to a D.U.I. charge.
He was almost out of the backseat of the police cruiser, but Olive Hill’s police chief just happened to radio in to check on the roadblock’s progress.
The chief, who was aware of the pending charges, recognized Nolen’s name and instructed the officer at the scene to – “Transport him now.”
Nolen found himself incarcerated, “in panic and in withdrawal – It was a bad time.”
He spent the next three months in jail in Rowan County. “None of my family knew what I was in there for. I wouldn’t tell them.”
His fellow inmates strongly advised him to retain a lawyer and Nolen said he was pleased to find one who was able to get his bail reduced twice. Even at the lower rate, however, he needed help with the money and had to be honest with his family about the type of charges he was facing.
“I had to call my parents and say, Hey mom, I’m a drug dealer and I’m facing serious time.”
Released on bond, Nolen said he largely disregarded his attorney’s advice about how to handle the charges.
“I wanted to take it to trial – like an idiot. They had me cold on nine out of the 10 charges.”
Nodding Off In Court
On the first day of jury selection, Nolen said he ingested a considerable amount of Oxycontin before even getting into his lawyer’s car for the trip to court.
“I was so frickin’ high. I puked on my shirt in the car on the way there. I was nodding in court.”
As he struggled to appear aware of his environment, Nolen said he saw a woman hand the judge a piece of paper and whisper something to him.
“The judge then said ‘You had a chance of beating these charges, but we have a new indictment …”
The new indictment charged Nolen with selling 10 Oxycontin to a confidential informant who was detained in a holding cell in the back of the courtroom, prepared to testify. The judge advised Nolen he could accept a seven year sentence, or face each charge separately with maximum penalties applied.
His attorney strongly advised him to take the seven year sentence.
“I just remember seeing my mom start bawling crying,” he said.
Prison & Parole
Nolen’s first prison was more like a farm/camp, he said, with no cells or even fences.
“I was there 22 months and made parole. First thing, I was right back to doing the same dumb stuff,” he said, confirming he was not sober at any point during his time as an inmate and adding that drugs are even available even at the county-jail level.
“At that point is when I think it really did become a choice for me. It just snowballed again from there.”
He moved to Grayson and realized the local Oxycontin connections, typically doctors, had dried up or otherwise had been “weeded out.” Lots of people were traveling to Florida to get prescriptions, and Nolen decide to let others do the traveling and work for him.
“I got the money up and sent people to Florida for me. In 2009 it all caught up with me again,” he said, explaining he was selling drugs from an apartment complex when “They hit me with a full-on raid.”
Like A Scene From A Movie
His apartment was filled with people anxiously waiting for the pills to arrive, and there was a car load of people heading their way fresh from Florida with “hundreds of pills” in pocket.
Nolen said a phone call and quick series of events resulted in him being “Swarmed – like a scene from a movie” face down in a post office parking lot. He was wearing only shoes and shorts, carrying his wallet and phone, shirtless and face down on the blacktop on a blistering hot July afternoon.
As he felt the heat searing his skin, Nolen said he got a phone call from a customer – the son of the police officer who had his gun at the base of his skull.
The officer calmly reached down and pushed a button to dismiss the call, but was clearly well aware of who was on the other end, Nolen said.
As he was taken into custody, Nolen said it appeared as if everyone who lived in his apartment complex had come outside to watch him get busted.
More Jail Time
Since he was still on probation at the time of his arrest, Nolen explained he went back to jail and used legal tactics to “ride out the parole,” before he was ultimately sentenced to six years.
He again qualified for parole in about two weeks.
“I went to a halfway house for three or four days and then I got a job in Sacramento.”
Mikee Meets Meth
Seeking a change of scenery, Nolen said he took a job in Sacramento, California – where he tried his first taste of methamphetamine. His first hit was with a homeless man who followed him back to his hotel after bumming a couple of dollars “for Crystal” – which Nolen thought was the name of a woman the guy knew.
“I was like, ‘Who’s Crystal? Is she in trouble?”
Nolen said he soon realized “everyone out there” carried a small pipe to smoke meth with, and that high-quality crystal from Mexico was easy to find.
He realized he was in trouble with the drug when he went to reheat a few leftovers from Taco Bell – only to find them molded. He’d realized he bought the tacos six days before, when he last ate.
When he came home to Kentucky he had lost 70 pounds. Nolen’s own mother couldn’t initially recognize him as he walked up, he said.
“I was way messed up when I got back,” Nolen continued with his story as the next chapter turned to a codependent relationship, cooking meth and sleeping in the bed of a pickup truck parked in the woods.
Most local meth was homemade at that time, he reminded, and he too learned to “cook meth in a bottle.” He and his girlfriend at the time had both been kicked out of their family’s homes, so they parked her truck in different places and slept in the back when they needed rest.
This went on for months, Nolen said, and he had skipped many mandatory meetings with his probation officer. His meth use had clearly altered his thinking, he said.
Chuckling and shaking his head slightly as he remembered spending the night, “chasing Bigfoot through the woods with a BB gun and running from a midget Swat team.”
The next morning he asked if it was the first Thursday of the month, and reported to his probation officer as if he’d been showing up every 30 days.
“I hadn’t seen him in six or seven months,” he said, adding he was still in a delusional state as he arrived.
“I was seeing deer in the second floor windows, but I walked in like I was there three weeks ago.”
Surprised to see Nolen, the probation officer observed he did not look well and asked if he had been taking drugs. Nolen told the man he was clean, but he asked for a drug test anyway. The results were not good.
“He said, ‘Dude, you burned the bottom out of the cup.’ He told me I failed for all the drugs they test for, except Xanax.”
He spent the next 10 days in jail without a minute of sleep as his body attempted to adjust to the sudden change. He was given the option of going into a rehabilitation program and jumped at the chance, just to get out of jail.
“I thought, if it gets me out of here today I’ll take the rehab.”
“I planned to take drugs in with me,” he continued, explaining he had a small container of drugs with him as he arrived, and a massive dose already in his bloodstream.
“So high … again. I did 10 to 20 (Oxycontin) on the way there,” he said.
Before signing in, Nolen decided to leave his stash of drugs behind.
“I woke up on that first day and never looked back. I finished the program six days early. That was eight years and four months ago yesterday.”
Regrets & Lessons Learned
Ask Nolen if he is now a happy person and his immediate response is, “Extremely.”
He admits he has a few regrets which do linger within him, including the way he treated some of those who wanted to buy drugs from him, but had no cash. He is especially haunted by memories of the way he once took great pleasure in getting people to try drugs for the very first time.
“I was the worst kind of drug addict. I liked keeping the next person high. I loved first timers.”
“It was bad. There’s a list of people I got started on OC – some of them no longer alive. That’s my toughest regret. That and what I put my parents through.”
He recalls being in high school, preparing for graduation and wanting a class ring despite the fact it was outside his family’s budget. Nolen’s dad somehow found the money for the class ring, he said.
“I remember pawning it to get dope,” he said, explaining he still regrets that decision because he knows the ring was immediately melted down and can never be gotten back.
A New Role
While it’s true that Nolen clocked in to work as a Peer Support Specialist at A Center 4 Change that morning, it is actually a role he has embraced for years.
“For the last eight years I have counseled my friends off ledges and into rehab – literally hundreds of them. I’m passionate about it.”
As a Peer Support Specialist, Nolen will work one-on-one with people in recovery as well as people with active addiction problems.
He has a simple message for anyone struggling with substance abuse issues.
“If I can get off drugs and prosper in sobriety then anyone can.”
For more information about A Center 4 Change visit http://www.acenter4change.com/
Or call – 606.475.0334