Shelby County seeing increase in heroin overdoses - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Shelby County seeing increase in heroin overdoses

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SHELBY COUNTY, Ky. (WDRB) -- Officials say new laws designed to stop the illegal sale and consumption of prescription drugs are having a deadly side effect. Right now, Shelby County officials are seeing a growing number of people overdosing and dying from heroin use.

"I would be freezing to death and sweating all at the same time," said Joe, a recovering heroin addict.

He described what happened the last time he came down off of a drug high.

"I didn't sleep for the next seven days, I couldn't eat."

Joe doesn't want us to show his identity, but has agreed to share his story, including how he became a drug addict.

"I was injured in a work related injury in 2003 and started out taking prescription medicines so I could work more, so I could feel better, so I could make more money," Joe explained.

Joe was eventually arrested for prescription drug abuse and soon found a deadly substitute.

"When I got out, the pills were not as prevalent when I was released but heroin was everywhere," said Joe.

"That's basically bringing the heroin back," said Jeff Ivers, Director of Shelby County Emergency Medical Services.

Ivers said new laws regarding prescription drugs are causing an increase in heroin use. In fact, since January, nearly 50 people have overdosed on heroin and some have died.

"I come up with a total of 4 deaths from January to April," Ivers said.

Open Door of Hope is Shelby County's only shelter and drug treatment center for men.

"We're trying to save their lives," said executive director Jon Walker. "We get a lot of folks released from the hospital, we get a lot of guys that get out of recovery."

Walker said Open Door Hope works on restoring the men once they've gone through a drug treatment program.

"We teach them budgeting, life skills," he added.

"When I had burned every bridge and had nowhere to turn," Joe said. "These guys opened up their arms and accepted me like a brother."

Joe now believes what seemed like a curse may have been a blessing in disguise

"Getting locked up this last time saved my life," he said.

There will be a town hall meeting next Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Shelby County extension office. The purpose is to share the warning signs of heroin use with the community.

Related: Local hospitals to begin handing out heroin overdose kits

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