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Drug addicts seeking help will skip jail time in Nashville thanks to new program

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Nash County gets proactive about a growing drug concern.

Nashville Police don't want to see possible charges come in the way of a person seeking help for heroin addiction.

"Since November 1st of 2015, Nash County as a whole has responded to about 65 overdose calls, now it's hard to determine whether all of those were heroin calls, but that's a lot," Nashville Police Chief, Thomas Bashore, said.

Its why Nashville Police launched the Hope Initiative - a project that allows opiate addicts, seeking help, to come to the police department to be connected with counselling and resources without the fear of incarceration.

"We didn't want them to be in fear of, if they had drugs on them, or paraphernalia, so we're not going to charge them with that," Bashore said.

"We're just going to take the drugs from them, obviously, and destroy them, so they can just continue with the program."

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Heather Moore is a volunteer for the Hope Initiative and a mother to two sons, in their twenties, who are both recovering from heroin addiction.

Moore said her sons have been dealing with a drug problem for the past seven to eight years. She said they started with prescription pills but slowly turned to heroin in the past two to three years as an alternative.

"The first thing that I had noticed is spoons, spoons missing," Moore said. "You know you go through the dishes and you're like 'where's all the spoons.' Little things like that is how it started."

She said they would make constant excuses for their whereabouts.

"They would be gone for two hours three hours. Never noticed any markings. They're very careful you know."

Moore said she didn't know what to do, or how to help, until one night when both her sons were at home high off heroin and she had enough.

"They were both so bad, but I just, I couldn't take it anymore," she said. "And I have threatened, you know 'you can't stay at my house. You can't, you cannot stay at my home anymore. I cannot take this.'

"And it came to the point I had to go to both of them one night - it was a rainy night - and I looked at them both and I said 'you have to go, and you need to leave now,'

"For a mother that was heart wrenching because I watched both my boys walk out my front door, not knowing if they were going to survive, not knowing if they were going to use, not knowing who is going to them up, not knowing if I was going to see them again."

Now both of her sons are receiving treatment at rehab and Moore said she couldn't be any happier.

Stories like Moore's are why Nashville Police are now taking a two-pronged approached to stopping the heroin problem.

"Obviously if we can dry up the supply then the users will have to turn to programs to get help and get off of it. If we can dry up the users, then the supply won't have any need to bring it in," Bashore said.

Bashore said although everyone may not agree with him, he believes addiction is disease and hopes the program will open up doors for many in need.

"A lot of people have vices. You know some people are addicted to chocolate, but the individuals that get addicted to heroin, it's not a choice for them," Bashore said.
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