Key, 29, is now eight months into a five-year sentence after she pleaded guilty to possession of and facilitation to manufacture methamphetamine.
The time behind bars has been a blessing that has allowed her to reclaim her life and start anew, she said.
During a two-hour interview, she appeared to answer questions frankly and didn't blame anyone else for her predicament. By talking publicly about her experience, Key said she hopes someone might recognize themselves or a loved one heading down the same path and choose a different direction.
She also knows that speaking out against meth on the front page of the newspaper won't hurt her chances when she goes for her first parole hearing in June.
"I want my family back, and I'm going to do whatever it takes," she said.
"Even if I have to serve all five years."
Arrested in March 2003
Key was arrested in March 2003, after a family member asked Lincoln County deputies to check on the welfare of her two young children.
When the officers arrived at her Moreland apartment, Key, as usual, was high, and a packet of meth fell from her bra to the officers' feet.
Once inside the apartment, deputies found materials used to make meth and James "Little Jimmy" Wilson Jr. of Junction City, Key's boyfriend, who is currently serving a 10-year sentence for manufacturing the drug.
They also found Key's two children, a girl and boy who were ages 3 and 1 at the time. Key watched as the officers took her babies away.
"When I seen them carrying my kids out of there that night, it was over for me."
Key said her arrest turned out to be her ticket to salvation.
She said it ended her seven-year relationship with meth, the last four of which she used it every day.
It cost her her marriage and her children (she's seen them only three times in the last eight months).
It destroyed all of her important relationships with family and friends.
It gave her an irregular heartbeat, fogged over many of her memories.
It turned her into a slave and stole her ability to see any beauty in the world.
Powerless to stop her addiction
Key said she knew meth was unraveling her life but felt powerless to prevent it.
"You may love your kids, you may love your family, but the drug just takes over your mind," she said.
"I've done coke. I've done pot. I've done crack. But there's nothing that gets you high, gets you 'up' like meth. There's nothing like meth. It just takes ... you."
Key and her husband first did meth together in Bowling Green, she said. It was sexually thrilling and boosted energy to super-human levels.
"It makes you feel like you can do anything," Key said.
But it also led to violent domestic fights and undermined her marriage. Her husband pulled back from the drug, Key said, but she could not.
"I left my husband because of meth," she said. "I wanted dope every day."
With her two babies in tow, Key fell in with Wilson and began to sink deeper in the meth quagmire.
To save money, Wilson began to cook up his own drugs at his Junction City apartment, Key said. Associates would shoplift the needed cold pills and other ingredients.
With an investment of about $11, Wilson could make a batch of meth with a street value of about $500, she said.
They consumed most of it themselves.
"I was doing half an ounce a day," she said. "That's a lot."
Meth called "walk away drug"
Experts call meth the "walk away drug" because users walk away from all responsibilities, even their children, who are abandoned to the point of becoming "meth orphans." Key admitted such descriptions were true to her experience.
Though she said "I always made sure I fed my kids" and never exposed them to the toxic, explosive process of cooking up the drug, that was about the extent of her responsible parenting.
Getting high mattered more than nurturing her children, and she was high nearly every day of their lives, she said.
"I wasn't a good mother. I wasn't a loving mother. I put my kids in danger."
Key said she regularly drove under the influence of meth with her kids in the car, often arriving at a destination without remembering how she got there or why she came.
Sometimes she would stay high for two weeks at a time, never sleeping, and then crash, leaving her children unattended for hours.