Only on 11: DART working to combat drug addiction in Lucas Count - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Only on 11: DART working to combat drug addiction in Lucas County

LUCAS COUNTY, OH (Toledo News Now) - Last year, Lucas County had around 150 overdose deaths on heroin or opiates alone. Wednesday WTOL got an inside look at how the Drug Abuse Response Team is trying to combat the problem. 

DART was set up by Lucas County nearly a year ago and is run by the Lucas County Sheriff's Department.

Deputy Sheriff Dennis Whaley is part of the seven man crew that makes up the DART program. He says a typical day includes going into the office and checking emails and voicemails to see if anyone needs help for an addiction. 

Those wanting help call DART and then a member of the team meets with them.

"I've learned that the only person that can do this is the person that is the addict and they have to reach a bottom and they have to do it themselves nobody can force them, even if you make them do it," Whaley said.

Deputies with DART are dressed in suits rather than uniforms. They drive unmarked Dodge Avengers, donated by Yark Automotive and Grogans Towne, rather than a patrol car. Their goal is to offer help and support rather then punishment and judgement.

Erin Whitton with the Zepf Center says it is a key part of the program and one of the reasons for its success. 

"I think having the officers believe in the patient or the client is amazing. I know the patient looks at that as such a positive, especially when other members of law enforcement aren't believing in them and just putting them in jail," said Whitton. 

DART has been around for less than a year, but has already seen so many success stories.

"I was completely washed in my addiction, doing my thing, selling drugs, doing whatever I could to get high," said Matthew Myers. 

Myers has struggled with drug addiction for 10 years. He says he overdosed nine times and heroin has taken him to extremes he never wants to visit again.

"When I was 19 I sold a bag of heroin to my dad and he had an overdose and died from it," said Myers. 

Then, he says, a member of the DART team left a business card at his home and he knew it was time. 

"My life shows that every time I use drugs it's a catastrophe and when I didn't, life was great. So any normal person would not use drugs, but apparently I'm a drug addict and I am powerless over this," said Myers. 

Myers has gone through detox and is now staying at a recovery house. He says the DART program is a godsend and the deputies support and encourage him. 

Myers has now been clean nearly a month. 

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