Experts believe a new heroin addiction treatment could save lives
A record number of people are dying from heroin overdoses across Kentuckiana, but there is now a treatment program that some experts believe will save lives.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A record number of people are dying from heroin overdoses across Kentuckiana, but there is now a treatment program that some experts believe will save lives.
It is called Medication Assisted Treatment or MAT.
MAT actually treats the drug addiction with a drug.
"I've been in rooms where people have died from overdoses," said Justin Schwarz, a recovering heroin addict.
A powerful heroin addiction exposed Schwarz to some things he would rather forget.
"One time, I was at a friend's house, and we used, and one of the guys that we were with just turned blue," he said.
But not even death or some scary close calls was enough to make him quit.
"He made it through, but I had to rub his chest multiple times and kind of smack him around and wake him up to make sure that he continued breathing, or he would have died," Schwarz said.
"It is killing people every single day, it is breaking the families apart," said Priscilla McIntosh, CEO of The Morton Center.
The Morton Center is dedicated to helping whole families survive addiction.
"We hear about individuals who are being found in the bathrooms at restaurants, at convenience stores," McIntosh said.
McIntosh said the number of deaths from heroin ODs is way up. In fact, the Jefferson County coroner's office confirms responding to several a week and recently seven in one day.
"It is up 31 percent from where it was last year," McIntosh said.
That's why the Morton Center is now using MAT. McIntosh explained the logic in treating the drug addiction with drugs.
"We're not substituting one for the other. What we are trying to do is to be able to block those cravings, but also be able to help them as they go through that period with the withdraw."
The MAT treatment includes education, group therapy and family involvement.
"That's lowering the chances of them overdosing and seeing all the amount of deaths that we're seeing in the Louisville area," McIntosh said.
Meanwhile, you could say Schwarz cheated death, and now he's volunteering at The Healing Place, hoping to help others do the same.
"The fact that I can do it, I just try to help people feel like I did when I first got here, that there's just no way that you could ever stop," Schwarz said.
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