Editor’s note: This is the first half of a report that continues an ongoing series on the damage caused by meth addiction.

Current Grahamite Michael Haupt, 51, is doing better these days.

He has been sober for eight years, an accomplishment he’s monumentally proud of. He says often that prior to getting sober, he didn’t think he could stop using meth. He also didn’t have much hope of holding onto his family.

“At the height of my addiction, it just gripped me,” Haupt said. “My kids were already grown, but at one point, they kind of cornered me and said, ‘Hey Dad, We don’t like what you’re doing.’ You know, it (his meth addiction) separated us there for a while.
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The same day Haupt gave an interview to the Graham Leader, he stopped by the paper’s offices as an afterthought and dropped off a six stanza poem by an unknown author titled “Crystal Meth.”

That morning, he had been discussing how he almost lost his family, and the poem felt pertinent to him, especially the fourth stanza.

“I’ll be your conscience, I’ll teach you my ways. I take kids from their parents. I take parents from their kids. I take people from God, I separate friends. I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride. I’ll be with you always, right by your side. You’ll give up everything. Your family, your home, your money, your friends. Then you’ll be alone.”

The poem hits home for Haupt, who struggled with meth addiction for several decades. One of the many prices he paid for his addiction was an extended estrangement from his family.

“I just became this person that was a total 180 from how I ever imagined myself. I almost became someone I despised.” Haupt related. “I never stole from my parents or anything like that, but later on I learned that I was stealing time from my family, and I was stealing time from my job. I was just stealing.”

He said that it has taken him time to rebuild his relationships with his kids. He realizes now that it will take patience. But ultimately, he counts himself lucky that he didn’t lose his family for good, and he recognizes how easily meth addiction destroys families.

Read the entire story in this Weekend's Graham Leader.