Even with expansion, The Healing Place fighting to keep up with - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Even with expansion, The Healing Place fighting to keep up with heroin epidemic

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky's heroin epidemic is becoming more deadly than ever across the state. At the same time, the region's largest addiction recovery center is fighting to keep up.

The problem at The Healing Place is too many heroin addicts and not enough beds. There is an expansion in the works and a new treatment center in town, but even that is not enough.

Last year, Brian Kirby, a recovering addict, almost watched one of his friends die during a heroin binge.

"We were all using needles and we all were doing it at the same time," he recalled. "And we didn't realize that our buddy had started to turn blue next to us."

That was the wakeup call that brought Brian Kirby to The Healing Place -- and probably saved his life.

"When I first came in, I came at about 2 in the morning and they did not having any beds open and they let me sit in the chair," Kirby said. "They were nice enough to let me sit in the chair." 

Kirby eventually got a bed in the detox center, but hundreds are turned away every month. Jay Davidson is chairman of The Healing Place and says the overdose antidote Narcan has helped save lives -- but heroin has become an epidemic.

"The month of August, we turned away 433 men because we were full all of the time," Davidson said. "People are dying, more so than ever before."

"The messages have got to get out to the heroin user that they've got to realize that they're playing with life and death every time they take a shot," Davidson added.

Right now, The Healing Place is planning a major expansion that will double the number of detox rooms, but Davidson says every month it's the same problem, so even with more beds addicts will be turned away.

"Eighty men in the first week -- and I just hope and pray that people will start to realize that we need to intervene," Davidson said.

Brian Kirby's friend survived the scare, but since coming to treatment, he has seen some people who didn't.

"It absolutely can kill you," Kirby said. "I know a lot of people, just being here in this program, that have overdosed and are no longer with us."

The Healing Place hopes to break ground on the expansion before the end of the year.

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