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Middlesboro High cheerleader had good grades — and a big drug problem

Fellowship Story Showcase

Middlesboro High cheerleader had good grades — and a big drug problem

Picture of Emily Hagedorn

A former prescription drug addict shares her story of struggle and recovery. This story is part of a series that examines prescription drug abuse in Kentucky.

Courier-Journal
Sunday, January 30, 2011

When Tayler Partin attended Middlesboro High School in Bell County, she was a varsity cheerleader, track team captain, Key Club member, straight-A student — and a prescription drug addict. She was taking 12 to 15 Xanax pills and three to eight OxyContin pills a day, losing so much weight that she dropped from a size 7 to a size 2 — yet no one noticed, she said. The drugs didn't affect her grades, and as a cheerleader, she felt “pumped full of spirit when I did Oxy.”

But her charade fell apart after a football game in September 2007, when a fellow cheerleader saw her snorting painkillers and reported her to school officials. They called her into the office the next school day, searched her and found the pain reliever Percocet.

“Right before I got pulled into the office, I had done two Xanax off the desk… in the middle of class,” she said. “There were people who saw, but they did it too.”

Looking back, Partin, now 19, says getting caught likely saved her life.

She said she had been abusing prescription drugs since she was 15, like many other classmates.

“There's really no recreation,” Partin said of Bell County. “They turn to going up on the mountain, bringing a keg and getting drunk and stoned and high.”

There were times Partin said she was so high she didn't know how she made it home.

“I don't know how I didn't die.”

After she was caught in school, she was sentenced to community service and regular drug tests — a punishment that kept her clean.

Her mother also made her go to church every Sunday, and Partin attended the Crossroads ministry for addicts through Covenant United Methodist Church in Middlesboro.

She said it gave her the strength to end her addiction.

“I just told them (the congregation) that I realized I couldn't do it on my own anymore,” she said. “I needed God on my side.”

Partin said she has stayed clean, though at times it has been a challenge. She graduated from Middlesboro High in 2009 and now attends Morehead State University, hoping to become a school substance-abuse counselor.

“A lot of people when they get caught, they're very bitter,” she said. “To me, it was a blessing in disguise because I got my head out of my rear end and realized what I needed to be doing with my life.”

Reporter Emily Hagedorn can be reached at (502) 582-7086.