Letter: Jail drug treatment can transform lives

From: Welby Johnson


I am writing in regards to your Nov. 27 editorial, “The community must rally to prevent overdose deaths.” I am a 42-year-old who is currently incarcerated in the Bartholomew County Jail. I am a proud graduate of the in-house drug treatment program BART (Begin, Accept, Reveal, Transform), which is a community-funded program. I just finished the aftercare program as a mentor to around 20 other gentlemen who have followed after me.

I believe the rally point begins right here in the in-house treatment programs such as BART, and that surrounding counties would benefit from in-house treatment programs such as BART, which is followed by ASAP to give recovering addicts the continuum of care that is much-needed and provided.

A lot of overdose deaths are young and older adults who have been arrested and charged, yet released back into the same situations which led them to incarceration. I have been an addict for years yet refused to acknowledge it until I was picked up on drug-induced charges. It wasn’t until I decided to take a chance on BART that I realized I was a true addict and also had mental health issues resulting in co-occurring disorders.

The first thing taught in BART was the word “awareness.” That word led to a chain of events and models such as the Maslow model, ACES, transtheoretical model as well the American Society of Addiction Medicine that not only reconstructed and changed my way of thinking but also changed my life in whole. Upon my release from incarceration, through the BART program, I have met the qualifications to be eligible to take the IC&RC Exam and become a peer recovery specialist, which I plan on pursuing and becoming so I can give something back to the community that helped me recover from my addiction.

With the proven success rate from BART and other in-house programs such as REALM, other communities that are interested in the rally to stop overdoses should look into the numbers alongside the facts of designing and funding their own in-house drug treatment programs. At the end of the day, Bartholomew County’s community came together to fund the BART program and in doing so reached out with the opportunity for people like me to not only want to change and treat their addiction, but the know-how. And that, I believe, is the rally point.

In-house drug treatment programs in our county jails can help 100% to halt or slow down this overdose epidemic. If you want to change, you need the know-how to change as well as being provided with the tools to do so.

I want to give thanks to the county of Bartholomew and county jail for their support and opportunity that changed my life.