More counties providing treatment programs to stop drug-crime cycle

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SHELBYVILLE, Ind. — Multiple central Indiana counties are trying to help addicts who already have  convictions get clean and stay that way.

Shelby County prosecutor Brand Landwerlen hopes their new program will give some addicts a needed second chance. Eventually, the goal is also to lighten his office’s caseload, which has already increased 20 percent over last year.

“I’m looking at this as a way of throwing them a lifeline or a rope and they can either use that rope to pull themselves out of the hole they’ve dug or they can hang themselves with it,” said Landwerlen.

Landwerlen hopes many opiate addicts will see the opportunity and take the second chance.

“Your likelihood of recidivism is down, if you’re not using drugs,” said Landwerlen. “It’s substantially decreased if you’re not using drugs.”

Landwerlen plans to help people tackle their powerful opioid addictions with Vivitrol.

“Every addict that I’ve spoken to whose gone on the Vivitrol program and succeeded, they don’t want to live without it,” said Landwerlen. “What Vivitrol does is it blocks the receptors in the brain from receiving the message that there’s some kind of pleasant europhia from using the drug.”

Here, those convicted can trade in a year or two of proven sobriety for a potentially lighter sentence.

A few counties away, the Monroe County Sherrif’s Office will soon start helping those already in jail.

The sheriff is preparing to move some inmates into a dedicated dorm as they start treatment for addiction just before they’re released.

Each is tackling the problem in a different way. The goal though, is the same. They’re trying to reduce crime by stopping addiction.

“I do think it’s as simple as, the more you control drugs, the more you control crime,” said Shelby County prosecutor Brad Landwerlen.

“I just sentenced someone upstairs, 20 minutes ago, for dealing,” said Landwerlen, describing someone who likely is or will be caught up in a cycle of addiction and criminality. “When you’re no longer using, you don’t need to deal. You don’t need to make new addicts.”

Landwerlen believes whole communities will see the impact, with fewer family members robbed by their loved ones and houses burglarized by addicts desperate for money.

“We realize we’re not going to have 100% success,” said Landwerlen. “No program treating addiction is 100% successful. I wish to God we could find one that was. But there’s zero doubt we’re going to help some people get off this problem.”

Right now, the Shelby County program is set up to serve five people, who must each pay the co-pay for the injection and consent to much more frequent checks with judges and community corrections officers.

Landwerlen says they’ll spend the next six months working out the kinks with the first five and plan to expand after that.

Monroe County is set to officially start its treatment dorm sometime next week.

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