In Ohio, an opioid epidemic has sheriffs going door to door to talk to people who have recently been saved from overdoses — all in an attempt to convince them to seek help. The situation has become so severe, police told NBC News’ Jacob Soboroff, the department had been forced to convert jails into detox centers in order to help treat the state’s exploding numbers of addicts — many of whom are women.
“We’re the heroin capital of the world,” said Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department Detective Melanie Phelps, before stepping past a gate to speak with a heroin user whose mother had recently overdosed.
Speaking with Soboroff in a converted Ohio jail cell, an unnamed woman undergoing treatment for fentanyl — a potent synthetic opioid that can range from 50 to 10,000 times more powerful than morphine — talked about how it feels to be in the throes of detox and addiction recovery. For her, recovery is of paramount importance given the toll opioid addiction has taken on her life. She broke down as she explained that she had recently lost both her boyfriend and her mom to the addictive powers of opioids. Asked what she might say to any family or friends watching the interview on TV, she struck a despondent tone and responded: “That I love them. And I’m sorry.”
Tawny Watkins, a former opioid addict who recently completed her 100th day clean of the drug, explained that she had been in and out of jail and treatment since she began using opioids in 2008.
“I just got a house with a couple friends. I got my job back,” she told Soboroff. “I’m so grateful I got a chance to get back on track.”
Watch Soboroff’s investigative report below.