TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - An innovative drug, the first of its kind in the state, is helping to save the lives of drug addicted inmates inside the Lucas County Jail.
Joe Krohn, who works with inmates in the program, loves to hear the good stories.
"It's gratifying," Krohn said. "I was born and raised in West Toledo and I always wanted to do something for my community."
Inmates he meets with in the medical clinic at the jail that are addicted to heroin he sees in a group session called A Renewed Mind Behavioral Health months later. Often time, he says they are looking like a different person.
"They have this one image where they come in and they're just tore up from drugs," Krohn said. "Then you see them months later and they look like they're gaining healthy weight. They're bright they're smiling. It's good. It's real good! "
The change is happening because of a two-year-old program called Project Direct Link. A partnership between Sheriff John Tharp's D.A.R.T. program and A Renewed Mind Behavioral Health. It gets funding from the Lucas County Mental Health & Recovery Services Board.
Nurses like Krohn screen inmates, and if there are no other drugs in their system, they are given a shot of Vivitrol, an injection that curbs cravings for heroin for a month.
Without the program, Joe says Vivitrol would not be available for the inmates.
The injection helps bridge the gap between release from jail, and getting into treatment.
"There's people who have started their own business," said Krohn. "It's opened so many doors where they don't have to worry about that, they can redirect resources. They're able to mend ties with family."
But for all the happy endings, there are some that don't make it. Krohn says those are the ones who haunt him.
"I had a doctor once tell me that every medical professional has their own cemetery. That they have patients that they've lost, and they carry that with them," Krohn said.
The program also runs at the Wood County Jail.
Success in this program has a lot to with the inmate's motivation and sober people to support the addicts.
Matthew Rizzo, CEO of A Renewed Mind says studies show for every dollar spent on treatment, three dollars are saved in criminal expenses to us, the taxpayers.