Last summer, Jenkins again went through treatment. On Sept. 1, she moved to a back-road hillside apartment on the outskirts of Cumberland so she would not face the temptation of using heroin again. She figured if she could not find it, she could not use it.
The drug found her instead.
She had been clean for two months, living in an upstairs apartment in a sickly green house. An addict she had met while in treatment had also moved to the area and began calling Jenkins, asking her to travel with her to Baltimore to buy heroin. Jenkins refused.
"Then she called me up one day and said, 'I know somebody who has it right around the corner.' That's what she said -- right around the corner. And guess what? It was."
Jenkins bought the heroin. On the pale white skin of her arms are rows of red lines that start above the inside of her elbow and continue to the middle knuckles of her thumbs and fingers. The lines were formed by years of sticking needles into her veins -- so many times, in fact, that they are too deflated for needles.
To inflate the veins in her hand, Jenkins wrapped a belt tightly around her wrist. She put the powder in a spoon, drew water into a syringe, added the water to the heroin and heated it with a lighter. She peeled the filter of a cigarette and used the cotton to absorb the mixture. She placed the tip of the needle into the cotton and withdrew the mixture back into the syringe. Then she jabbed the needle into her hand.
Soon Jenkins had the familiar bitter taste of heroin in her mouth. Rather than the euphoria she had experienced in the past, though, she crumbled:
"I remember starting to shake and cry, and I remember feeling this terrible sense of remorse and thinking, 'Why in God's name did I do this again?' I mean it's cost me everything. I lost my jobs, my business, my daughter. Now it took my sobriety again, and I'd really cherished that. I really wanted to stay clean."
She did not use again for three days. Then she used again, several times a day.
The cost of treating heroin addiction is high. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that about $ 10 billion a year is spent on treatment of drug abuse in this country, about a third of that for heroin users.
The cost of not treating heroin addiction, though, is staggering.
The institute estimates that in 1995, law enforcement authorities in the country spent about $ 17 billion to enforce drug laws and jail offenders, many of them heroin users. In addition, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on emergency care for overdose victims and to treat uninsured heroin addicts, who are particularly susceptible to blood infections and other abuse-related health problems.
It costs about $ 25,000 a year to jail a heroin offender; it costs about $ 3,500 a year to treat a user with methadone.
"The bottom line is, God knows the police work hard and do a wonderful job, but if jail would stop this disease, we wouldn't have this disease," says Rosendale, the state health department official. "There are entire communities in this state that have absolutely no treatment facilities."
Since February, Jenkins has been rising each morning by 6 to drive the 90 miles or so to Frederick, the closest place she can receive a daily dose of methadone. She begins in the dark, and her journey, like her addiction, takes her through thick fog, into a clearing, back to the fog and so on, up hills and down them.
When there is no snow on the ground, the drive takes her about two hours each way.
The methadone, largely misunderstood, does not give a person as addicted as Jenkins the euphoric feeling that heroin provides. It merely prevents her from getting sick from the withdrawal.
The treatment -- if it is successful, and even Jenkins is unsure whether it will be -- has not come quickly enough. On Christmas Eve, shortly after wrapping presents she intended to give her daughter, Chelsea, Jenkins was arrested with several friends who were shooting up in a Super 8 motel in LaVale.
Her trial is scheduled for this month. She faces up to 30 years in prison.
The damage done
Upon learning that he would be tried as an adult in Carroll County, Kristopher Olenginski also found out that he faced the possibility of adult prison. As he sat handcuffed, waiting to see a District Court commissioner who would formally issue the charges, he glanced at another prisoner -- a muscular man covered in tattoos, including the letters H-A-T-E on the knuckles of his left hand.
A few minutes later, court Commissioner David E. Showalter leaned across his desk and warned the boy that prison would be tough, especially considering his diminutive stature. "I'm going to be real blunt with you," Showalter told the teen-ager. "Right now, Bubba's waiting for you, and Bubba's a real big guy."
Seven months after Stephen Ayres II was found dead at a Cecil County Little League field, his father, Stephen Ayres, is angry that some youngsters have painted his son a hero who died to show others the dangers of drugs.