COVINGTON, Ky. – Jason Merrick struggled with heroin addiction for years.
Now he’s in recovery and using his experience to help others at the Kenton County Detention Center with their own efforts to get off heroin as the jail’s director of addiction services.
“No one can look at me and say ‘you don’t know because you haven’t been there, you don’t know what it’s like to go through what I’ve gone through.’ I do, I’ve been there, I’ve done that,” he said.
Merrick struggled with heroin addiction for most of his life. Now he’s six years sober and trying to use his experience as a way to help others get through theirs.
“As I got into recovery, I was given the tools that turn that guilt and that shame into something malleable, something I could work with,” he said.
Merrick is working with 100 addicts in the jail who are struggling with abuse of substances like heroin. He’s helping them get what they need to get clean and stay clean.
The jail started the addiction recovery program after officials found a dramatic increase in the number of inmates affected by substance abuse. Kenton County Jailer Terry Carl said 85 percent of the jail population is struggling with some kind of drug addiction.
“We’re trying to make a difference in individuals’ lives, trying to save lives,” Carl said.
Merrick said he’s seeing success in the program, but there’s still a lot of work ahead to curb the problems of addiction.
“It’s only with education and empathy that we’re going to get anywhere, make progress in battling this,” Merrick said.
Click here for a list of resources to get help getting off heroin.