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Former addict turns bad habit into something good

By Staff
DRUG EDUCATION – Billie Jo Miller, a recovering drug addict, wants state lawmakers to use some of the money seized from drug busts and fines collected from drunken driving and narcotics arrests to help fund secondary drug rehabilitation programs. She also wants to educate adults and children about drug abuse. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Nov. 4, 2002
The energy Billie Jo Miller once spent looking for narcotics to feed her habit is now focused on making a difference in her community.
A self-proclaimed recovering addict, the Bailey resident wants to inform and educate adults and children about the dangers of illegal drug use. She also wants to enhance the rehabilitation process locally.
Miller, 22, began abusing prescription pain medication as a teen-ager. She not only misused her own prescriptions for migraines she also took medication prescribed to others.
Drug education
This month, a year after going through detox and spending two months in the hospital for drug rehabilitation, Miller began an e-mail and letter-writing campaign to seek advice and support for her ideas.
Miller contacted public officials including state legislators, county supervisors and city leaders telling them about her plans to work with children and start a secondary drug rehabilitation program.
A secondary program would offer transitional, residential units that help people work their way back into society with intense counseling.
Miller wants state lawmakers to pass a bill to fund secondary drug rehabilitation programs with some of the money seized from drug busts and fines from drunken driving convictions and narcotics arrests.
Lawmaker impressed
State Sen. Sampson Jackson, D-DeKalb, met with Miller last week and said he was impressed with her drive.
Jackson said he would do everything he could to help Miller and may have her meet with legislative committees to find a way to aide those who want to overcome addiction.
Miller said she has also had her share of discouraging responses.
Miller is aware that drug education programs are in place, such as the DARE program initiated by law enforcement officers to warn school children about the dangers of drug abuse.
More work
But Miller said she believes more needs to be done to discourage drug use.
One of Miller's goals is to educate herself as well.
She plans to return to school in January at Meridian Community College. She eventually plans to enroll at Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus, to pursue degrees in psychology and social work.
Miller's pastor, the Rev. Clay Chancellor of Russell Baptist Church, has supported her efforts.
Miller doesn't pull any punches when she talks about the obstacles she has faced, both with her addiction and recovery.
Miller's plans
Today, Miller works as a hostess at Montana's Bar-B-Q &Seafood Restaurant and doesn't hide the fact that she has had a drug problem.
She said she doesn't know where her efforts will take her.
She hopes to steer others away from drugs, provide the best possible chance for rehabilitation and help others recovering from drug addiction be better accepted into society.
Miller said she has the support of her husband, Gary Miller Jr., her pastor, other family and friends. And she said she draws inspiration from one of her favorite recording artists, Elton John.
Miller usually listens to "Elton John's Greatest Hits" on the compact disc player in her 1999 Oldsmobile Alero and almost always listens to Track 9 "Don't Let the Sun go Down on Me."