Hope and life-saving antidotes for teen drug addicts.
By Ginger Kadlec — get free updates of new posts here.
Sheriff Mike Nielsen has seen more than his share of awful things.
“If you’ve never seen a heroine withdrawal,” Sheriff Nielsen (who prefers to be called “Mike”) notes, “It’s one of the worst things you can go through… Every imaginable pain is happening to that person.”
While across the nation, statistics on teen drug and alcohol usage seem to be improving, Mike shared his perspective from the front-line in his community and said, “This county is facing one of the biggest epidemics it has ever had as far as opiate usage and methamphetamine usage.”
His concerns were echoed by an article in the USA Today about a “supercharged form of heroin” that caused 75 overdoses in Indiana and Ohio within a week.
A supercharged form of heroin caused 75 overdoses in Indiana and Ohio within a week.
“What we don’t do a good job at, is when they leave our jail,” Mike commented, noting that once they leave, they are again faced with the stressors and triggers in their every-day lives and they often regress to those old habits because those stressors are not adequately dealt with or resolved.
“We’ve done great when they are inside here…we’ve given them a little bit of hope,” Mike reflected. “But when they leave our jail, they’ve lost that hope.”
The Promise of Hope
Drug addiction and mental health are intertwined, which is why Mike is working diligently to implement programs in his jail to help addicts heal both their drug addictions, as well as their mental heath issues. Thanks to a $130,000 grant awarded to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, the drug vivitrol is being made available to inmates as part of a larger recovery initiative that offers not only help, but hope.
Vivitrol has been used to fight alcohol addiction, but is also proven to lessen an addict’s urges to use heroin. Vivitrol impacts receptors in the brain so when addicts shoot-up, they do not feel the “high” from the heroin injection, which aids in their addiction recovery. Vivitrol offers two primary benefits:
- Reduce urges to use heroin
- If someone does shoot-up, vivitrol drastically diminishes the effects of heroin.
As part of this innovative program implemented by the Boone Co. Sheriff’s office, Mike shared, “48-hours before they leave, we are going to continue that hope for them,” by giving them a vivitrol shot.
Mike notes that funding is a huge challenge, as each vivitrol shot costs approx. $1,000 and needs to be administered every 28-days. The goal is to provide inmates in this program with shots for six (6) months after they leave the jail, and then intertwine mental health support and addiction counseling.
“The recidivism rate is so high right now that as soon as I release them with no hope, within two weeks I have them right back,” Mike commented.
I’ve literally watched people OD and dead laying on the ground and we, as police officers, first responders, we administer 1-cc up each nostril passage and within 30- to 60-seconds they are awake.
“I’ve literally watched people OD and dead laying on the ground and we, as police officers, first responders, we administer 1-cc up each nostril passage and within 30- to 60-seconds they are awake,” Mike shared. “It’s absolutely one of the best drugs that’s out there that saves lives.”
What can parents do?
Mike offers sound advice to parents about the importance of being engaged in children’s lives and encourages them to open kids’ phones and check their emails, texts, photos and other social media interaction.
“You have to get back to being a good parent,” Mike advised. “In society today, we want to be friends more than we want to be parents.”
With regards to drug usage, Mike encourages parents, grandparents and other guardians to pay attention to their medicine cabinets… this is often how kids get their hands on harmful drugs in the first place.
“If you want to try and deal with this yourself, be a parent first,” Mike said. “Sit down and talk with your kids.”
For parents who don’t know where to turn or feel uncomfortable addressing drug usage with their kids, Mike advises parents to team-up with police. “Let us talk to ’em and see if we can help get them steered in the right direction,” Mike reassured. He also noted that school resource officers help create positive relationships with kids in schools and can be a tremendous resource for parents.
Mike also recommends parents connect with Michael Deleon of Steered Straight, a non-profit educational and prevention/intervention organization, committed to reaching children, teens and young adults with a message of reality about life-choices and the importance of consequential thinking to better understand there are consequences to their actions.
Read the rest of this series
Sheriff Mike Nielsen has been in law enforcement for over 30 years. Amazingly, his career as a police officer began after a traffic stop where the road officer, after talking with Mike for a bit, asked him to step out of the car. Impressed with his polite demeanor and impressive 6’7″ stature, the road officer invited Mike to think about joining the force. At the time, Mike was an electrical engineering manager with Fishers Control International, but was compelled by the opportunity to help others and eventually decided to become a law enforcement officer. Since joining the force in 1983, Mike has earned numerous distinctions and accreditations such as graduating from various law enforcement academies, including the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, in 2010. He has served as the Indiana President of the FBI National Academy (2015), the board of directors for the Indiana Sheriff’s Association and is a certified crisis hostage negotiator among other numerous boards and association memberships. In 1999, he received the Richard Brown Memorial Award and was named “Police Officer of the Year,” and then in 2003, was named “Victim Rights Officer of the Year” by the Boone County Indiana Prosecutor’s Office. Mike serves as a fellow board member with Ginger on the Boone County Child Advocacy Center Board of Directors. Connect with Mike at the Boone County Indiana Sheriff’s Department, on Facebook at the Boone Co. Sheriff’s Office page or on Twitter @nielsen4sheriff.
Raising awareness of the world-wide epidemic of child abuse has become Ginger’s life mission. An impassioned child advocate, trainer, speaker and trained child forensic interviewer, Ginger regularly blogs about child protection issues. Along with her husband John and pets Lexi and Chase, Ginger enjoys traveling, skiing, hiking, brisk mornings, colorful sunsets and just hangin’ at home with “the Pack”.
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