DETOX: Addressing the (Heroin) Addiction - WDRB 41 Louisville News

DETOX: Addressing the (Heroin) Addiction

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Inside Louisville's jail, moms, wives, and daughters are desperately trying to get clean of heroin.

WDRB's Valerie Chinn recently went "behind bars" to explore the heroin problem that's reached epidemic proportions.

31-year-old Sarah didn't want her last name used -- but she was willing to show us pictures of herself during happier times. She's a proud mother of three young children, ages, 3, 6, and 9.

But what she's not so proud of is what got her behind bars in a yellow jumpsuit yet again: her addictions to meth and heroin.

"That was my sober date: 6-1-12," Sarah said. "Now, my new sober date is 1/6/13."

"What does it mean to you when you see this?" Chinn asked. 

"It breaks my heart that I didn't stay clean," Sarah said. "But I know that it's not the end."

The wall at what's called the "Enough is Enough" women's detox dorm inside Metro Corrections is full of pictures.

"Everybody that comes into the program, we make a hand and write and decorate anything they want with it," Sarah said.

The daily detox logs at Metro Corrections reveal that on any given day, there are dozens of people going through detox: sometimes as many as 90. And, about half of them are women.

Ken Wright, the Substance Abuse Program Coordinator works with the women each day... as detox was just implemented inside this women's dorm.

"Change is the primary agent to recovery, so you have to be at a place where you really want to change," explained Ken Wright, the Substance Abuse Program Coordinator. 

For the Enough is Enough program, inmates pledge to not bring contraband including drugs into the jail, and they hold each other accountable for their actions. It's the only program of its kind in the nation.

"It's an equal opportunity butt-kicker," Wright said. "It makes no difference whether you are black, white, brown, or yellow, whether you got a PhD, GED or you only got D's in school, if you get involved with this, you are headed for trouble."

Just to get into the program, female inmates have to go through an interview process because inmates have to first want to seek treatment.

"The capacity is 30," Wright said. "We can accommodate 16 women in the program, and 14 will be in detox. The reality is that...it's hard to get in here because of the numbers."

Laying down with her head wrapped in a towel, one inmate was going through detox. Her pink bed pans are by her side, as she sleeps to try and get through several days without drugs.

"We had a girl come in a couple of nights ago and she has been vomiting non-stop...can't hold anything down," Sarah said. "It's terrible."

Jessica Ramp didn't want her face shown, but she is also 31 years old and has lived a life of drugs.

"Detox was hell," Ramp said. "It was pure hell. I laid back there on the bunk, didn't get up...didn't sleep, didn't get up. I didn't want anybody to know I was sick. I just felt like I was dying."

She finds herself back in jail and in the program once again, struggling to get clean.

"I had to relapse and go back there to get another taste of it before I think it really sunk in that this is what I want," Ramp said. "This is what I need to have a better life."

Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton said detox programs like this work, but inmates need enough time to complete it. He says it can take someone between four and nine days to be fully detoxed, but some are not even here that long.

"They are booked in on real minimum lightweight offenses: could be trespassing, could be shoplifting...minor offenses," Bolton said. "In many cases, they're being released before they've been totally detoxed."

City officials are working together to combat the heroin problem that is getting out of control.

At Metro Corrections a detox nurse was also hired, but officials believe more education, and of course, more funding is needed to make a larger difference.

"I need to stay with the program," Sarah said. "I have to, or I'm going to be dead or in prison the rest of my life."

On Friday on WDRB News at 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., Valerie Chinn will investigate what police are doing to try and stop the heroin problem statewide.

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