Startling stats on opiate addiction among detoxing Henrico inmates

Posted at 12:39 AM, Mar 22, 2013

HENRICO, Va. (WTVR)—New tracking records in the Henrico jail indicate that an opiate addiction is the most common among detoxing inmates.

"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy I honestly wouldn't," said recovering heroin addict Tarah Sutherland.

Life's bad decisions have left the 22-year-old confined with a book to read and lots of time to regret what might have been.

"I was in honors classes, had straight A's at Hanover high school, I was like a star pretty much and I was doing heroin the whole time,"  said Sutherland.

She claims it wasn’t long until her double life caught up to her.

"I have been in and out of hotels, my car, my friends couches," said Sutherland.

Sutherland confessed she was shooting heroin in her arm at least three times a day at the height of her using. She explains the feeling as a numbness, but one that made her feel invincible.

"In the afternoon or night I would do some more to hold me over until the next morning," she said.

After an eight year struggle with the drug Sutherland has found herself as a part in a bigger problem.

The problem became abundantly clear to Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade just last month.

"The number of people that are involved in heroin is surprising from all walks of life," said Wade.

After the county began a new drug tracking record at the start of the year, a pattern emerged. Between January and February 2013, 60 percent of the inmates that went through detoxed in Henrico jail were trying to kick an opiate addiction.

The vast majority were heroin users and many between 18 and 25 years old.

"It starts with the pain pills and it starts out with that and if you want something you can find it," said recovering addict Samantha Rigdon.

Rigdon is just 19-years-old and is now desperately trying to find a way home to her young son.  Her heroin addiction has cost her hearing his first words and seeing his first steps. Mostly now he’s just a voice on the phone.

"I've missed his first everything, so looking back on missing all that I just can't do this anymore," said Rigdon.

After hearing from a few women willing to share their story, we asked all 49 women in recovery some similar questions. Their stories has a common thread.

Many found heroin after becoming addicted to pain pills. Many had been destructive to themselves and their families. Many had lost everything.  Almost all of them say getting off of heroin was the hardest thing they’ve ever done. All agree it will be a daily struggle to stay off it. Perhaps this best explains the numbers.

"I can't guarantee that I'll never do drugs again but I know like for today I’m not and that's how you have to take it, one day at a time," said Sutherland.