By Sarah A. Ward and Alex St. Laurent

Pregnant at 15 with her first child, Vanessa Wood dropped out of high school and developed several bad habits including an addiction to opiates, pain-killing narcotics such as codeine and morphine.

Wood, 24, is locked up at the Rockbridge Regional Jail for a probation violation on a 2010 conviction for drug possession. She was charged last summer with selling painkillers in Lexington and Buena Vista, Va., where she has lived her entire life.

She recalls first using drugs in her early teenage years after tagging along with her older sister, whose friends used and sold drugs.

Asked if she has any regrets, Wood says, “I don’t even know because it feels like I’ve been doing it for so long. I would have never even picked up a drug, I’d be so against it like my brother was.”

But she wanted to do what everybody else was doing. “I was so young and naïve at the time that I thought it was fun and the thing to do,” she says.

Wood says she stopped using drugs but got pulled back in. “I started hanging out with old friends, you know, the wrong crowd. And I got in the mix and that did it to me,” she says.

She describes her drug dealing as “stupid and careless” and admits that she wouldn’t have made her last drug deal if she hadn’t been high at the time.

Wood says her time behind bars has taught her a great deal. “I learn about everything in here, living with people … just the little things that matter that you don’t really appreciate on the outside are everything to you in here.”

Despite her legal problems, Wood says she is optimistic about her life after she gets out of jail. She says she wants to enter a substance abuse program and go back to school to set an example for her children. “They’re my life,” she says.

“I just want to prove to them that no matter how low you go, you can still work up from it,” she says. “I’m sorry I let them down … I want to change and do the right thing and be their mom and be there for them like I should be.”

Eric Wisotsky contributed to this story.