When they’re ready… –
September 9, 2019 – Are you ready to stop using? It’s a question Mr. Whaley asks hundreds of addicts every year as part of the Drug Abuse Response Team (DART), a unit Sheriff John Tharp created in 2014 to combat the area’s rising overdose deaths by diverting addicts away from jail and into treatment. Team members roam the county reaching out to addicts after overdoses, checking on them in their homes and helping get them into detox or treatment and stay there. When she wasn’t ready — or willing — to get clean Ms. Howell, 37, said she avoided or shrugged off the intrusions, even after twice waking up from a coma because of injuries suffered during an overdose. She didn’t know another way to live, despite technically being dead — during an overdose, a person’s breathing is stalled and, in many cases, their heart stops. “It’s not about becoming someone new, it’s about unbecoming all you’ve ever known,” Ms. Howell said of beating addiction. “My grandma was an alcoholic. My mother was an alcoholic and an addict. I didn’t know any other way. I didn’t know how to turn my life around.” But Mr. Whaley kept coming back. He kept asking if she was ready. In August, 2018, following liver and kidney failure which temporarily deprived her of the use of her left arm, she was. She’s been sober since, and this month moved to Florida to run a new franchise of her friend’s chimney service and repair business.