Former Frazee High School student Samantha Riggles was reunited with her six-month-old son, gaining back full custody of him the day after Christmas this year after a difficult battle with an addiction to meth.
Riggles remembers the spiral into addiction clearly. Back in the fall of 2015, she was 19 and had recently purchased her own home in Audubon. She was doing well for herself until she noticed something wasn't quite right: her boyfriend at the time would go off the radar for days on end, leaving Riggles wondering what was up.
"I finally went over to our friend's house where he was at, and he was sitting there getting high," she recalled.
At that point, Riggles didn't realize the dangers of the drug. She had never used it, so she told her boyfriend she would rather he do it at her house. That way, she would know he was safe, she thought.
"It took like a month, and I was asking to try it...It started as an every-once-in-a-while (thing)-I used when I needed to get stuff done," she said, adding that it wasn't long before the drug had hold of her. "Slowly, it turned into every day. I had to use it to move or to get up, to do anything."
Riggles and her then-boyfriend were trapped in their addictions, spending money meant for mortgage payments on drugs, selling and pawning their valuables to get high, and that high got harder and harder to chase.
At her worst, Riggles says she was using an 8-ball (about 3.7 grams) of meth a day. She wasn't sleeping, up for four or five nights in a row. She lost weight rapidly, and her teeth deteriorated.
"I went from 200 pounds to 115 pounds in about nine months," she recalled.
More than the physical effects, though, Riggles felt the emotional impact, forced to sever ties with her family.
"When I was using, my mom would tell me not to come around because she didn't want my sisters seeing me like that-and I get it," Riggles says now looking back at that time like it was another life.
As the spiral of addiction continued to tighten, Riggles received some life-changing news: she was pregnant.
"I tried to stop using on my own," said Riggles.
She knew using meth would be detrimental to her pregnancy, but the addiction was too strong.
"I made it a week, and then I started using again," she said. "I used for another two or three months until a cop showed up at the door because I failed three UAs (urine analyses) at the doctor."
The officer took her into detox, where she sat for two weeks, going through withdrawls.
From there, Riggles went to Pine Manor treatment center in Nevis but, after three weeks, she was kicked out, not quite ready to take the steps she needed to get healthy.
But the state wasn't ready to give up on her. She was sent to Care Liberalis in Carlton, Minn., the treatment facility she graduated from 96 days later, three days before she gave birth to her son, Bently.
But the journey to recovery still wasn't over.
"They took Bently from me at the hospital," said Riggles. "They said the only way I could get him back was to go to a halfway house." And at that point, Riggles was determined.
"I've heard people say that recovery is too hard," she said. "It is hard. It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life, but it's the most rewarding thing I've ever done. Your life, the lives of the people around you, your children's lives, they matter more than a drug does."
Now 10 months sober, Riggles is living with her son in an apartment in Moorhead.
The treatment process allowed her to mend relationships with her family.
"Everywhere I was, they drove to see me while I was in treatment," said Riggles. "My parents and siblings are my biggest support through all this."
Riggles says she makes trips to Frazee every weekend so Bently can spend time with his grandma.
As for her ex, Riggles says he recently entered recovery.
"He's doing outpatient treatment and doing what he's gotta do too," she said.