He Lost Nearly Everything To Addiction. Then An Arrest Changed His Life – NPR

Will clean away sweat on a hot day while strolling down Willow Street in Lynn, Mass., as he seeks to disperse security materials to drug users on the street.

Jesse Costa/WBUR

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Will clean away sweat on a hot day while walking down Willow Street in Lynn, Mass., as he looks to distribute safety products to drug users on the street.

Jesse Costa/WBUR

. Mindsets about drug users were beginning to move too. Today, three-quarters of individuals sent to neighborhood corrections in Massachusetts have a history of drug use.

” In the early 1970s when this so-called War on Drugs was begun, it really operated much more as a war on the people addicted to drugs,” says Dr. Stephen Taylor, an addiction psychiatrist in Birmingham, Ala

Heroin started taking and rewiring control of Wills brain in the early 2000s, as he turned 40. “Back then, if you used drugs individuals didnt want anything to do with you,” Will recalls. “People gave up on me.”

“Feeding that dependency,” he states. “That was the video game changer,” Will says. Its one indication of what has altered in the 50 years because President Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs.

Will distributes new sterile syringes to a drug user in front of the My Brothers Table soup kitchen area in Lynn, Mass

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. Jesse Costa/WBUR

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Will distributes new sterilized syringes to a drug user in front of the My Brothers Table soup cooking area in Lynn, Mass

Disparities and gaps Marc Levin with the Council on Criminal Justice states most states have an alternative course for drug users charged with minor offenses. There are cops departments that offer immediate positioning in dependency treatment, drug courts and other community-based options such as the one Will went into. While some drug users are used treatment instead of penalty for minor crimes, Levin says, others are still sent out to prison.

” We truly need to strike the accelerator when it pertains to these options,” states Levin, who directs policy for the council. “They are on the books throughout the nation, but when you in fact look at the utilization, especially in rural locations, thats where you actually see disparities and gaps.”

At his workplace in the Lynn Community Health Center, Will loads a knapsack with sterilized syringes, Narcan and safety sets to distribute to drug users on the streets to keep them safe from the risks related to substance abuse.

Lorenti states the War on Drugs still casts a shadow over programs that direct drug wrongdoers to treatment. Will came out of community corrections trained for a job that aims to assist drug users through that struggle. Will strolls the streets where he used to buy drugs, dispersing Narcan and leaflets about safe drug use, assisting people get into a detox program, taking customers to AA conferences and connecting them with lawyers or medical care if required.

. Jesse Costa/WBUR

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At his office in the Lynn Community Health Center, Will packs a backpack with sterile syringes, Narcan and security sets to disperse to drug users on the streets to keep them safe from the threats related to drug usage.

Jesse Costa/WBUR

Dr. Kiame Mahaniah, the university hospitals CEO, employed his first healing coaches just a couple of years back, spending for them with grants. “Its extremely recent that individuals with lived experience are valued as the most important member of the team because of that lived experience,” he says. “Now its simply inconceivable to believe that we d have the ability to do the work without recovery coaches.” And medications are changing treatment for those like Will who are addicted to opioids.

Will walks down an alley in Union Square in Lynn, Mass., searching for drug users. He disperses sterile syringes, Narcan and safety kits to keep them safe from the threats associated with substance abuse.

Lots of research studies prove that drugs recommended to treat an addiction to opioids prevent overdoses and save lives. Will says he still feels dismissed by some individuals who see him there or know he utilized heroin for many years. “A lot of people are extremely judgmental,” he says.

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Will walks down an alley in Union Square in Lynn, Mass., browsing for drug users. He disperses sterilized syringes, Narcan and safety sets to keep them safe from the risks associated with drug usage.

Jesse Costa/WBUR

” In the early 1970s when this so-called War on Drugs was begun, it really operated much more as a war on the people addicted to drugs,” says Dr. Stephen Taylor, a dependency psychiatrist in Birmingham, Ala

Will, now 56, states hes grateful for the people who did take a chance on him– and for his church, which he calls the structure of his 2 years in recovery. He is tapering off methadone and prepares to continue recovery without it by summers end. He purchased a car. And hes registered for classes this fall, more training in addiction recovery so he can help others go back to healthy, efficient lives. “I rejoice about where I am now,” he states. “I simply hope to God that I can keep doing this for a while. The skys the limitation.”

Lorenti states the War on Drugs still casts a shadow over programs that direct drug wrongdoers to treatment. Will strolls the streets where he used to purchase drugs, distributing Narcan and flyers about safe drug use, assisting people get into a detox program, taking clients to AA conferences and connecting them with attorneys or medical care if required.

. Gaps and disparities Marc Levin with the Council on Criminal Justice states most states have an alternative path for drug users charged with minor offenses. While some drug users are provided treatment instead of penalty for petty criminal offenses, Levin states, others are still sent out to prison.

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