Claudia Mitt, 31, of Boutte, starts her day off with her usual routine, walking the streets of St. Charles Parish, asking people for food and money to help her get back the life she once knew before her drug addiction forced her to lose her home, job and family.
“It’s hard out here on the streets trying to survive,” Mitt said. “I didn’t always live like this. I know people tell kids to ‘just say no to drugs,’ I tell people just don’t use drugs period.”
Mitt says her addiction to drugs has been on-going for years and it doesn’t help matters that she has to bring her 4-year old son with her everywhere she goes.
“I started with marijuana, once that high wasn’t good enough, I just started using harder and harder drugs,” she said. “Once the high gets weak you want the next level of drugs. My mother did drugs too and she eventually died from a heart attack.”
Mitt wants help to finally end the disease that has destroyed her family.
“I wasn’t always addicted to drugs,” Mitt said. “In fact, I can remember when somebody asked me if I would do crack-cocaine. I said ‘man you must be crazy, I don’t want that.’”
Mitt says after having some personal problems, a friend suggested she “take a hit” off of a crack pipe and she has been addicted ever since.
“I’ve been on and off crack for about six years now and I started doing it when I was 24,” she said. “My husband didn’t even know I was on drugs until it was too late.”
Mitt said she lost a brand new furnished mobile home, a car, her job and basically was left with nothing but the clothes on her back and her son, Rodtrell.
Now, she travels from home to home living with friends.
“I’m divorced now and my ex-husband has started his life over and lives in Baton Rouge,” she said. “Being on drugs is hard, you steal things for it and beg for things to keep the drugs coming in. I’m ashamed to be out here like this.”
Mitt says she’s always scared to be out on the streets asking people for money.
“I’m afraid, especially when I first started asking people for money, because I thought they would tell on me,” she said. “Last year for Christmas, Rodtrell got presents from people handing him gifts as they came out of Wal-Mart. He had a good Christmas last year.”
Mitt hasn’t been to drug rehabilitation and says trying to break the habit on her own is difficult.
“I try to take it day by day,” she said. “That’s all I can do and I’ve been partially clean for about a year. Trying to find a job and get help to take care of my son is hard, because people who know me won’t help me because they remember my drug habit.”
Mitt walks the streets daily looking for work to feed and clothe her son.
“Rodtrell comes with me everywhere and if something happens to me he will be able to tell you my story,” she said. “I can’t afford day care, so he goes everywhere with me.”
Mitt recalls how doctors discovered drugs in Rodtrell’s system when he was born.
“I was so scared,” she said. “I did drugs for at least six months out of the pregnancy because I didn’t know that I was going to have a baby.”
Mitt says the doctors came in the room, took the baby from her arms and told her the baby had to be separated from her.
“Even that wasn’t enough to make me get off drugs,” she said. “This past Sunday, a blue van came to take me and Rodtrell to church, but no one else has offered to help us.”