NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A Hampshire County opioid task force is working to keep drug addicts out of jail.
“I’m struggling with the heroin for ten years now,” said Sean Piech. For years, he has been in and out of jail for committing crimes to support his heroin addiction. “The most difficult thing I’ve done in my entire life,” he added.
At Hampshire County House of Correction in Northampton, Sean gets the rehab he needs to live a sober life, but he knows when he’s released very soon, he could easily return to his old habits. 22News was invited into the jail to show you how community organizations are preventing inmates from relapsing, returning to jail, or dying of overdoses.
“This is a critical period in time. You’ve heard all this stuff from us in the past. But this is this last 30 days, what might you have missed. Maybe you weren’t interested. And now all of a sudden you have anxiety,” said Melinda Cady, Assistant Deputy Superintendent of the Hampshire Sheriff’s Office.
She said a new substance abuse aftercare workshop offers resources to inmates on how to use the overdose reversal drug Narcan, how to sign up for health insurance, how to find a place to live once released and how to get help to prevent a relapse.
Some of the inmates have been in and out of jail before for crimes related to heroin addiction. Some have even heard of programs available to them before. But they said the only way they’ll all make a difference, is if they have the willingness to want to change their lives around.
“I need to definitely go to meetings and have support and not just go back to the old places and old people I was hanging out with,” said inmate Richard Furioni. He said he got addicted to heroin very quickly after trying it with a friend. It led to anger problems and eventually his incarceration.
Monday morning was the fourth monthly workshop held at the jail. Seventeen inmates, all with a history of drug addiction, were reminded of the resources available, about 30 days before their release. Cady said four inmates who previously did not want to be involved in helpful organizations, signed up on Monday. They were finally ready to help themselves. She said it’s moments like that that show this new collaboration is having success in helping inmates start new, clean lives, outside of jail.