By BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner staff

Tiffany Bills comes from a family of addicts and says she started using drugs at 13. Her first stay in jail came in December 2014 and, after several more trips to jail, she decided to join The Ruth House in January and get clean. 

Standard-Examiner photographer Benjamin Zack documented Tiffany's stay in The Ruth House over the course of several months. The following are just some of the many images he captured, accompanied by audio clips from Tiffany discussing her life. 

Click the grey text to listen to Tiffany describe how she began her descent into drug abuse. 

“I was 13 when I started using meth. I was 26 when I started using heroin. I stopped for a few years when I was married, but just went back to using meth. I left my kids with their dad and stuff, and started abusing again. I had trauma in my childhood… I think I did it a lot to numb that.”

Tiffany Bills makes dinner with her nephew, Tiziano, at her sister's home in Ogden on May 4, 2017. Bills was addicted to methamphetamine along with her father, sister and brother-in-law. In 2016, Tiziano was taken into state custody. "Him getting taken away...was kind of like a blessing. It got them clean, " said Bills. "If my family was still using, I can't say I'd be successful right now." During the spring, Bills would babysit her nephew while her sister and brother-in-law worked and went to treatment classes.
Tiffany Bills, left, jokes around in the kitchen with her roommate Stephanie Bryant, right, and Tiffany Flygare who helps run the Ruth House on April 19, 2017. Bills moved into the Ruth House in early 2017 after getting out of Weber County Jail on drug related charges. Bills met Flygare when she was teaching a class in the jail.

“Him getting taken away, at the same time, it was kind of like a blessing. It got them clean too, you know. If my family was still using, I can’t say I’d be successful right now, unless I totally cut them off, which I would have had to do. I cut my old ties off. I don’t talk to nobody at all. Just my family and people from the church.”

Tiffany Bills sings during a church service at The Genesis Project on May 7, 2017. Bills said she had tried other treatment programs without much luck in the past. "I needed something more God-based," said Bills. "I know whats going to help me with my addiction. It's Jesus."
Tiffany Bills appears before Judge Joseph Bean during drug court at the Ogden Second District Courthouse on April 26, 2017. Bills began using meth at 13 and heroin in her 20s.

Tiffany's first arrest was in 2014. Here, she describes her subsequent arrests and why she decided to get sober.

“When I got out the last time, it was like ‘I’m done.’ I don’t want to do it again. I don’t want to put my family through the any more. (...) I didn’t want to do that again. I was tired of going to jail. I didn’t want to go to jail anymore. My dad has health problems and stuff and I didn’t want to be in jail when, if, he passed away or something.”

Tiffany Bills celebrates with Jeri Jensen, center, and Jay Salas, left, at the Ogden Second District Courthouse after progressing to the next stage in her drug court program on April 26, 2017.
Tiffany Bills chats with her father, Terry Jensen, while grilling burgers at his house in Ogden on May 4, 2017. Bills says her father was part of her motivation to get clean. "My dad has health problems," said Bills, "and I didn't want to be in jail when, if, he passed away."
Tiffany Bills leads her nephew, Tiziano, in prayer before dinner while babysitting on May 4, 2017.

Since her stay at The Ruth House, Tiffany has said she changed a lot. Listen as she encourages other addicts to reach out and get help.

“There are places that help; people that love and care about you. You just have to reach out and look for resources. I mean, cause it’s hard accepting help or asking for help. People out there that are still struggling… it’s important that you ask for help and then accept it.”

Tiffany Bills works on her computer during class at Ogden-Weber Tech College on July 10, 2017. By the end of the summer, Bills had completed her six months at the Ruth House, but she remained living in the home on a month-to-month basis while she worked on school and started a new job.


Listen to more stories from the women of The Ruth House