WALKER COUNTY OFFERING ADDICTS A WAY OUT OF DRUG USE

Walker County Sheriffs Office

Opiate overdose is a leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States. Now, one Alabama sheriff’s office has created a program helping addicts get the help they need.

Overdoses are a major public health concern in Walker County. In fact, the Walker County Sheriff’s Office said the county has the highest overdose numbers in the state. That fact prompted the creation of the Mercy Project.

“If (an addict comes) to the sheriff’s office and admits they have a problem and they need some help, they can bring the drugs, they can bring whatever they’ve got,” said Mercy Project Coordinator TJ Armstrong. “They are not subject to arrest, and we will help find them a place where they can go for detox and get into a longterm facility to get them some help.”

The program came about thanks to grants, Armstrong said.

“There is no charge to (taxpayers or the county),” he said. “We get a lot of this from scholarships. We just try to tailor a solution to this problem and help them beat this addiction.”

That’s the best part about the program, Armstrong said. No two treatments are alike.

“We look at the physical, the mental and the spiritual part of this,” he said. “Once we evaluate those three things that we tailor a place that is going to help with your specific addiction.” No two drugs are the same, no two addictions are the same, so we can’t have a blanket solution for everything.”

Walker County deputies said they’re hoping this new approach helps reduce the number of overdoses.

“We want to help addicts first and foremost,” Armstrong said. “And if we can do that, we will take so many steps to ensure they stick with it.”

Those steps include job training, assistance with housing and more resources.

If you’re interested in enrolling in the Mercy Project or becoming a care team member, please contact the Walker County Sheriff’s Office at 205-302-6464.

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