How Appalachia Became Addicted to Drugs

Aug 05, 2023 3.2M Views 8.6K Comments

Deep in the hills of Appalachia is a land of beauty laced with heavy drug abuse. In some of these communities up to 50% of the 20-40 year olds are addicted to hard drugs creating a generation of children being raised by grandparents. Join me and the locals as we show you the gravity of this situation and also introduce you to the people who are creating positive ways out.

► Chance’s outreach group:
► The Next Chapter rehab:
► Also check out The Good Samaritan Thrift Store in Kentucky if you’re in need:

► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello

► Headlund – Return to No Man’s Land

[Peter] Good morning, guys,
here in Somerset, Kentucky.
Right on the edge of Appalachia.
Very beautiful region of the country
also an area known for heavy drug usage.
Historically, late ’90s, early 2000s,
it was Oxycontin.
Now it’s more meth and Fentanyl.
So today we have the great privilege
to meet up with a local
who was a user for many years.
Has come through to the other side
and now brings others
out of their addiction
He’s gonna get us
into these areas out here
to show us what’s going on exactly
and how there’s an effort
to turn things around.
It’s not just in Appalachia either.
This is all over the country.
So by watching what goes on here
you’ll learn about
where you’re living too.
Should be an interesting journey.
Let’s do this.
[Peter] So Chance,
you’ve been clean two years?
-I’ve been clean for three years,
little over three years.
-So from homeless
to buying this house recently?
All this stuff in here, man.
Lawnmowers, weed eaters,
it’s not stolen today.
I ain’t gotta take it to the pawn shop,
I ain’t gotta trade it to the dope man.
Every day, man, you’d have to get up
and have to figure out a way
you’s gonna make it happen, you know?
-So figure out a way to get drugs,
which means
stealing people’s property and selling it?
There’d be days I would have
$10,000 worth of pills.
Three days later, things go wrong,
you’ve sent people off
to re-up and get money,
and you’re at the bottom again, you know?
-You’d have $10,000 worth of pills?
-So you were dealing too?
-We’re going to where I grew up.
Old Fall Creek, Monticello, Kentucky.
-Did you have a rough upbringing,
is that why you got into drugs?
-[sighs] No, I didn’t.
I was raised by some awesome parents.
We never had to worry about anything.
My dad was a superintendent
for a construction company.
My mom worked too.
My dad ended up
being a preacher later on.
He was in church…
The drug problem I had was
I was drug to church every Sunday.
Man, these hills and hollers
don’t care if you’re the sheriff’s son.
They don’t care
if you’re the preacher’s kid.
They’re gonna come after you.
Devil’s gonna come after you
with drugs, the world, man.
-So for outsiders outside Appalachia,
hollers are the little valley roads
off the main road.
-Yes, sir.
-Where you can get really deep in there?
You never know how many nooks
and crannies that holler’s gonna have.
You think you come around one
and you got five more, you know?
-And every one’s different.
So I went to a holler
in West Virginia the other day.
Total drug holler, it was sketchy.
The next holler, people super cool.
“Would you like something to drink?”
Everyone on the porch is waving.
-So every holler has a different vibe?
-Isn’t that crazy?
-Different world.
-You grew up in a very nice neighborhood.
-A lot of times people think
if someone gets on opioids or whatever,
they’re growing up in a bad situation.
-Product of their environment.
-Product of their environment.
[Peter] And that’s why.
You’re proving that wrong
at least in this case?
-So why would you start?
-I think I mainly started,
we played football together,
a lot of us, and we would hang out.
The older guys were smoking pot,
the cool guys, you know?
-So just to fit in.
-So right here’s
the house that I grew up in.
-Up on the hill?
-Up on the hill.
-Oh, that’s sweet.
-Wow, what a beautiful property.
-And so you went
from that to being homeless?
-Yes, sir.
Going to Walmart,
stealing any means necessary.
At the end I ended up going in
and stealing just to eat.
-This is right down the road
from where you grew up?
-Oh yeah,
I’d ride my four-wheeler down here.
-Oh, it’s beautiful.
When did you start using? What age?
-I started using, 15 years old.
Started smoking and drinking.
I was always searching
for man’s approval, you know, fit in.
So I could fit in anywhere
with these guys doing drugs.
You know?
-So the circle of people you were around?
If you used, ’cause they were,
you could be part of them?
-If you didn’t you were on the sidelines?
-Yeah, you were outcast.
-You were by yourself?
-So these kids these days,
do they have more…
More to be aware of?
More to protect?
Or it was the same back then as it is now?
-I think the problems are different
and challenges are different
that they face today.
At that time when I was in high school,
Oxycontin was rampant here.
-Late ’90s, early 2000s?
-This would be the early 2000s.
It was everywhere but these kids have…
drugs ain’t drugs today.
Everything’s got Fentanyl in it.
You know, the challenges they
are faced with is, as we’ll hear later,
is we got marijuana
being laced with Fentanyl.
So if they start it like I did at 15,
they might smoke a joint and die from it.
Why… Why do the dealers want to
lace their marijuana with Fentanyl?
I get asked that a lot
and I don’t have the answer.
-I think the reason, if you get ’em
to use once, you get hooked,
they’ve got ’em.
It’s all about a dollar.
-So you’re smoking marijuana, right?
And it’s got Fentanyl in it,
and you’re like,
“Wow, that really hit me in a good way.”
It’s very addictive, you’re gonna
go back to the dealer that sold you that.
-Exactly, next day,
you gonna feel like garbage.
You’re gonna want to feel good again.
I gotta say
I’m completely surprised with Kentucky.
I didn’t think it would be this nice.
It’s stunningly beautiful.
-The parts of the state that I’ve seen.
[Chance] Peaceful, you know?
[Peter] Peaceful,
beautiful rolling hills or mountains.
That’s just like a postcard.
When I was in high school,
after school about every day
a few of us would pitch in some money.
-We would drive down this road
and go buy some joints.
-Just marijuana?
That’s what it
started with though, you know?
I liked the way it made me feel then so…
So when different things
come along later… I partook in them.
This is where I bought
my first Percocet at right here.
Maybe a different trailer
but it was right there.
That was my first love, you know?
That first pain pill
is what really got me hooked.
It led to… Oxycontins after that.
But you know, I fell in love with it,
it became my…
It became my everything, you know?
Whatever it took to…
stay in a relationship with it.
[Chance] Drugs have had a strong hold
in this area for a long time.
[Peter] …you selling everything?
-All of it.
-In a neighborhood like this
what percentage of people
are on drugs do you think?
-I would say… 60, 70 percent.
-So that one caught on fire.
You got abandoned houses,
people will set up shop in ’em.
A lot of people homeless.
A lot of times they try to
start a fire in these places
and end up burning it down,
they’re freezing to death.
Some people still cook meth around here.
We’ve had a lot of places
burn because of that.
-So back in the day it was Oxy, right?
-Yes, sir.
-Now what is it?
Now you’ve got heroin, Fentanyl,
Oxycodones are still prevalent
because Purdue Pharma,
they made ’em reformulate Oxycontin.
So they can’t take it in a spoon
and heat it up like we used to do.
You can’t get instant release from it.
-So you’ve got ice
which is coming from all the cartel.
So people don’t really
cook the meth anymore.
So you’ve mainly got heroin and ice
is the biggest thing right now.
So the cartel’s controlling
all this drug operation up here?
-So Appalachia is known for
having a serious opioid epidemic.
Late ’90s, early 2000s, Purdue Pharma,
pill mills from Florida.
-Oh yeah, we would send
van loads full of people
down to pharmacies in Florida and Georgia.
The Florida pill pipeline.
-That’s what it was called?
-Pill pipeline?
-The pill pipeline.
-So how quick did that grab hold?
When those pills were
hitting these communities,
they didn’t have
drug problems before or did they?
Well you know you would have, like I said,
a lot of people smoked pot here.
People would drink.
You would hear of cocaine here and there,
and you would hear of speed,
the old school bikers used and stuff.
But you didn’t see it in high schools,
you didn’t see it…
You know, you heard of
low-grade pain pills
but there wasn’t people
talking about it in the open.
-But once Oxycontin hit the streets
it changed a whole entire generation.
Like I said, it didn’t discriminate.
There was school teachers on it.
-Did you sell to school teachers?
-I did.
I mean it was very prominent people
in the community, you know?
People that owned nursing homes.
Very successful business people.
So with pain medication…
I mean we do need
pain medication in society
-Right? for operations or–
-We do.
-You know, certain medical procedures.
-Oh, yeah.
I’m just being Devil’s advocate here,
you go to a grocery store,
you buy a 12 pack of beer.
It’s up to me to drink two beers
and leave the rest in the fridge
or I could drink 12.
What do you have to say to that?
Nobody forced it
on anybody… necessarily.
-Nobody forced it but
you know, I think they knew the…
The consequences of… synthetic heroin.
I mean just think about that for a minute.
We know how powerful heroin was.
How people got addicted,
and hooked in the early 1900s, you know?
It was handed out for anything.
Heroin used to be just like cocaine.
-You could buy it over the counter.
But they removed all that.
They knew the stronghold it had on people.
They would tie people
and strap them down to beds
over their addictions back then.
-Right, right.
So just knowing they were reformulating
and putting that into something, you know?
Just think, man, they had to know.
-So as a user,
does it just take hold of you?
You take your first pill
and then you’re like
day or two goes by and you’re like,
“I want another one.”?
And then you’re like,
“I want it stronger.”
or how does that work?
-The feeling you get, the euphoria,
letting go of all your problems,
all your pain,
mentally, physically,
just that release.
That… [sighs]
That moment.
You live for that moment,
but I’ll say this too,
Satan didn’t come at me with a set
of chains over these drugs and everything.
My first time using,
he didn’t wrap me up and say,
“Here, you’re gonna be bound to this.”
I wouldn’t have done it
if I knew where it would lead.
Where I would end up.
He came at me with a link at a time.
“Try this.”
-And it just levels up,
levels up, levels up?
-He build son that chain, man,
and eventually I was wrapped up and bound.
-How long did it take you
to get wrapped up?
-When I was 18
after taking that first Percocet.
I snorted my first Percocet, man,
and the cares of this world
were gone for me.
I graduated very quickly
into deeper, and deeper, you know?
-So you get high,
you go to sleep, you wake up,
are you ready for
your next high immediately?
-You’re gonna be sick.
-No energy, lethargic, mad at the world.
You know, you might lay there in
your self-pity for a little while,
but that monster, he’s calling you–
-…to get up and you’re gonna
have to do whatever it takes.
When you feel
the crawls coming, the shakes.
I was running this
used car lot here in Monticello
and we were selling pills.
There was times I might have $10,000 cash.
Couple days later
that cash is gone, I’ve sent…
-No way, so you’re
selling pills out of the dealership?
-And the clients are just coming in
acting like they’re buying a car
and they come
to the back office, you give them pills?
-I mean if there was customers there
we’d even have police in the city
would stop by and see me,
I was friends with them.
With some of their kids and stuff,
they’d come and hang out for a minute,
somebody’d come by wanting a pill,
I’d get the keys to a car,
go out, raise the hood,
look around, do the deal out there.
Didn’t matter who was there.
-So it was easy to do it there?
But my carelessness as it went on,
I was using so much,
I would drop pills and lose ’em.
I just didn’t care, you know?
Like it was never gonna run out,
but it would.
But you know when I would run out of
money, we would do whatever it took.
We would go sell whatever,
whether it was ours or not, you know?
-Gotta say, beautiful town, Monticello.
-It is.
-Different world.
-But really close to where
you’re saying all the drugs are going on.
-That’s literally two minutes away.
I want to take you into the world’s…
greatest hidden-gem hamburger joint.
World-famous, The City Pool Hall.
So this has been a secret recipe
passed down for generations.
One of a kind hamburgers.
-They’re not putting Oxy in them are they?
-No, no.
-[both laughing]
-Is that the secret recipe?
-Coulda been.
-They’re highly-addictive?
-They’re more addictive than Oxycontin.
-[Peter] Your buddy from back in the day?
-Yes, sir.
-What’s your name?
-We went to high school together.
-Played football together.
-We done drugs together.
-We hung out, partied, and you know…
-How long were you using for?
Since I was 12 probably.
-Since 12? Wow.
-So at least 10, 15 years.
-And how long you been clean?
-Two and a half…
Two years and three months.
-How’s it going for ya?
-It’s a struggle every day.
-It’s a battle every day?
-It’s a battle.
-How do you get–
-You know what I mean…
It’s more or less just… I don’t care
who you are, you think about it every day.
You know what I mean?
It don’t matter.
I think that’s when everyone stops,
you know what I’m saying?
I think I think about it every day.
Dream about it, I still have dreams.
-You still have dreams about the drugs?
-All the time.
-I had one relapse.
-Do you–
-One time, three months at one time.
Good after that, know what I mean?
-Dust yourself off.
-Pretty much just to remind me why.
-Yeah, and it’s worse every time.
-Any time you go back to it,
return to it, it’s always worse.
-So when you have crazy cravings,
how do you keep yourself from going back?
I go to the Suboxone clinic,
that’s really–
I mean that helps me a lot to be honest.
-There’s a clinic here?
-Okay, cool.
I mean that helped me
a whole lot right there.
To be honest, I think of it
as a addict, all the time.
Thinking of… it’s…
Your more mindset of putting
something in your body.
I don’t get high on Suboxone,
you know what I’m saying?
I guess it’s just…
I’m taking something,
you know, it controls my want to…
-Okay, so you’re taking a medication
to keep you from going on the–
-Yeah, doing something else, yeah.
-Okay, gotcha.
And the burgers help, right?
-[all chuckling]
-What’s your name?
-My name’s Randy Cooper.
-Okay, Randy, and you used?
-Yes, I used meth for 27 years.
-Yes, I just–
My birthday was July 4th.
I just turned 39, and the day before that
I got my first felony.
-Wow, how long you been clean?
-Little over a month.
-Is it pretty hard.
-You don’t know how bad
I want to go back to it right now.
-It’s like a constant craving?
-Yes, it’s all I dreamed about in jail.
-So how do you
get through every day right now?
-I don’t know,
I ain’t made it through yet.
I’m just three or four days out of jail.
-Three to four days
out of jail… right now?
-Wow, man, um…
Is there any therapy
or any programs you can be part of
that you’ve tried to reach out to or…
-Um, I’m fixin’ to start
probation and parole.
They was telling me
about something I could take.
Like the Suboxone clinic.
Which I don’t really like pills,
I always like the upper-stuff but
um, I don’t know.
I just gotta find a way
to get my mind somewhere else.
That’s probably work,
’cause I love working.
-Okay cool, what do you do for work?
-I build houses.
-You build houses? Nice.
-Yeah for 25 or 26 years now.
-Chase, what about your group?
-[Randy] You have a group?
-[Peter] He just got out.
-I just got out like three, four days ago.
-Man, that’s why we’re here for to…
We got a whole support group, man,
people that’s come out of it,
and we gonna wrap our arms
around you and help you, man.
Walk this thing out together.
-Yeah, I’d say I’m gonna need help.
‘Cause… woo.
-When you come out of prison
they’re not like funneling you
into some sort of therapy
or anything like that,
or how does it work?
Well they got your RIS.
Some kind of class you can take
for putting yourself back out there.
-But I’ve already got my job back,
I start back Monday.
-Yeah, that’s the first thing I done.
-Just mustard and salt.
-Right here.
-All right.
-Yep, that’s me right there.
-I can hook you up
with some good people down here.
-That’s what you gotta stay rooted in.
We stayed rooted
in the wrong things for so many years.
-Twenty-something years or better.
-I started smoking pot when I was 9,
started heavy drugs when I was 17, 18.
-Done it my whole life.
-Was it Oxy at first or–
-I quit pain pills myself.
-2017 or 16,
and then I just got on meth really bad.
Like every day.
-I’ve always done meth
but just when I stopped doing pills,
I was every day, man.
-You worked through it, your addiction?
-I always worked.
-Tweaked and worked at the same time,
it was like my tweak was work.
-And you could handle that?
I’m talking about for days at a time
and it did not bother me.
-Were you getting any sleep?
-Yeah, you’d be surprised what
meth can do to keep you up and all that.
-You can build a house
in like a week or something?
-Yeah, I probably could.
[both laughing]
Best of luck, stay strong, man.
-Hey, I’ll holler at you.
-Hit me up any time, all right?
-Appreciate it.
I got anything you need, man.
See you later.
-Take care, bro. Best of luck.
-You ready to do this?
-Let’s do it.
-…this video will go out
and reach somebody
and show them that there’s hope,
dear Father God, beyond addiction.
And we thank you for burgers,
thank you for our new friendship.
-In Jesus’ name, amen.
-So that second guy’s just struggling?
Fresh out, man,
that’s when we gotta catch ’em.
Drugs are so prevalent
in the prison system too
and in jails around here.
So you know, he’s been exposed.
But you gotta have a psyche change.
You know, and we gotta
help him get that change.
‘Cause here’s the thing.
Old behavior is not
gonna produce new mentality.
-You gotta change your way of thinking.
-So we gotta teach him a new way to live.
If we’re not there to support them,
they’re gonna run back to what’s familiar,
back to these old people.
-It’s all about relationships.
-Yeah, yeah.
So man, we gotta
get our hands to ’em fast.
-So a guy like that, just giving
an example, I don’t know his life.
But he goes in,
he’s got his friend network or his family,
hasn’t seen them forever,
he comes out and he almost has to
distance himself from them if they were
the ones doing drugs with him.
-So how hard is that?
That’s gotta be brutal.
You gotta be willing to forget
everything you knew about life.
-A lot of times you gotta move away.
I had to remove myself from this area
to let myself heal, you know?
-And to realize to cut ties with
these people that were no good for me.
You know?
Today I can step in anywhere.
-You know, I feel that I’m strong enough.
-But you should still
always have accountability.
You know, somebody’s gotta
hold you accountable.
So they got him on another drug, right?
Which I took Suboxone when
I didn’t have my–
When I didn’t have
Oxycontin or Oxycodone…
And there for a stretch
I would go to a Suboxone doctor.
I would shoot Suboxone.
Okay, you can shoot it like a pain pill.
-What does it do?
-It’s an opiate but it has
a higher affinity, a higher binding rate
than say, an Oxycodone.
-So it attaches to your opiate receptors
and it’ll keep a lower-grade pain pill
from getting you high, basically.
-So it’ll block you from taking
other pills and catching a buzz.
But it itself is binding
to your opiate receptors.
-Okay, so it’s just getting on
another drug in a way
that’s not as harmful maybe?
-You know,
maybe not as harmful if you’re
taking it as you’re “supposed to”
but I never took ’em as I was supposed to.
-And it was harder
to come off of literally
than a lot of the pills I was hooked on.
-Oh man, it took 30 days
before I could sleep.
-And doctors are prescribing this?
-Yep, left and right.
-So there’s not in that–
I don’t know this space very well
but from my understanding
like most problems,
there’s a deep-dive approach
to getting to the root of the problem.
-Or there’s a Band-Aid approach
to covering up the problem.
That seems like Band-Aid…
from the outside.
-It is.
I don’t see too many people
that come off of it.
-Their goal they say is to ween ’em down.
-But it just seems like people
are staying on ’em long-term.
And a lot of times, you know,
they’re mixing meth.
A lot of people I know,
we all took meth
and Suboxen at the same time.
-It was a Band-Aid.
You didn’t have to go out
and look for your high-dollar pain pills
you were getting high on.
This sufficed that for the moment.
To me, that was just another strong O.
-But it’s so-called legal
and prescribed by authority.
So it’s considered good maybe?
-This is definitely the local joint, huh?
-This is.
-In Monticello?
A candy bar is still $1.50,
how much is the burger?
-The burger is $2.50.
-$2.50 for this?
-You get cheese on it, it might be three.
-All American.
It’s good.
It’s very good.
They’ve been doing it
the same way since 1942?
[Peter] So $13.00 for three burgers,
Mountain Dew, water, and chips.
-You can’t even get
a combo somewhere for that.
-That’s cheaper than fast food.
-Oh, yeah.
-He’s doing a series on Appalachia.
And couldn’t bring the stories without
bringing how addiction’s affected it.
How our communities and…
Absolutely has.
-Every first of the month?
That’s when paychecks come?
-Government checks are paying for it, huh?
[Chance] A lot of ’em.
-Okay, so what is that amount?
-Six, seven-hundred a month.
-Seven-something a month probably.
800 bucks a month.
-And so all of that just goes
right into the drugs when they deposit?
-…when they deposit?
[Chance] Yeah.
-Why do you guys think it is that way?
To be fair, it’s everywhere
in the United States.
-It is.
I think think a lot of kids,
don’t see a lot of activity,
a lot of things to do for ’em.
[Chance] Yeah.
-I gotta say,
you got a very clean town here.
From the outside looking in,
you don’t see none of this here.
-You know, you could drive through here–
You could come visit, think,
“Man this is… this place is perfect.”
-Yeah, as a tourist, I would just
come through and say,
-“What a nice little town.”
-A great place to raise a family.
-Nice little sleepy town.
-Probably doesn’t have
many of the problems of the cities.
-And you’re saying, no.
-You got to get
in that underbelly, it’s here.
You see this white building here
with the windows boarded up?
-Okay, way down there?
-Used to go up there, and hang out
in apartment and shoot dope.
Right here Downtown.
So you basically had a trap apartment
and in the same parking lot
on the back side
there’s the sheriff’s department.
I’ve been booked
in this place several times.
I used to sell ’em
their sheriff’s cruisers
and ended up riding in the back of these.
But today
I get an invitation to come sit
in the Sheriff’s office and talk to him
about the hope we have,
and what our community
is dealing with.
-He obviously has some
good insight of what’s going on.
-[Man] Go right there.
-[Peter] Okay.
Thanks for taking the time because
you always have interesting perspectives.
Sheriffs do.
And unlike most law enforcement,
you can speak openly.
Which is very refreshing
especially in these times.
So the overreaching question is
what’s going on currently
with the drug situation in the county?
-Well our county is
probably like any other county
in Appalachia in Kentucky.
The drug problem is just astronomical.
Everywhere you turn, um…
Used to… drug problem back
when I was growing up was marijuana.
-That’s basically a thing of the past,
sure there’s still marijuana around.
But the biggest problem we have now
in Wayne County is methamphetamine.
But we also have the Fentanyl, the heroin,
pills, wherever you go it’s whatever.
It’s all here
but Wayne County’s drug of choice
is actually methamphetamine.
-Okay, so Fentanyl
hasn’t taken over here?
-Some, it’s here.
It’s here. We find it quite often.
Just not in thee volume we find meth.
Used to… meth, in Kentucky is…
‘Course I’ve been
in this business for 30-plus years.
It was always the meth was homemade.
They call ’em bottle dope, what have you.
-That’s basically a thing of the past,
it’s a rarity we ever find a meth lab.
-There’s no Walter White
Breaking Bad out in the trailer parks?
-No, no.
-So now it’s all coming
across the border, no question.
It’s all high quality
and there’s no end to it.
I mean when I first went
into office which woulda been in 2015.
January, 2015.
To buy methamphetamines under-cover
was cost us anywhere from about
$2,000 at best, $2,100, $2,200.
Today we go out and buy it for $250.
High quality methamphetamine.
That’s how it’s flooded in America.
Especially here for us.
-So the cartels have
full control of what’s going on?
-The supply chains?
-Oh, absolutely, right.
Right, ‘course here it’s not cartel.
Not here as much as Louisville,
Lexington, Nashville, wherever.
‘Course they go travel,
get it, and bring it back to here.
So now the Fentanyl…
We find Fentanyl now
like I said, not like meth,
but we still find a lot of Fentanyl.
It was kind of funny.
The national news media had on
about finding these
Fentanyl pills at the border.
Of course they’re getting
millions of them, whatever.
The very next day we found 300 of them
exactly the same
right here in Wayne County.
So that proves
that’s where it’s coming from.
Fentanyl, you know it’s…
The powder, whatever you want to call it,
we found that as well.
-What age groups are you
seeing this most prevalent in,
or is it everybody,
or more younger people now,
or older people, how’s it working?
-[coughs] Excuse me.
It’s all ages.
It skewing of course
I guess ’cause I’m an old man
but I guess toward
the younger to middle-aged.
You know, the 20s, up to mid-30s or so.
That’s kinda the bigger group
but we find it in our school systems.
Meth, and marijuana, what have you.
[sighs] I don’t think I actually found
any Fentanyl in the school system yet
but it’s coming.
It doesn’t matter your upcoming.
It has nothing to do with it,
I know people, and I’ve got family members
raised in church.
And now they’re all strung out on meth.
Like I said,
it’s the big drug of choice here.
So that really doesn’t
have a whole lot to do with it.
So it’s like… and I may have
said the same thing to Chance.
You go down the path
and you can make a turn.
You can go to the right,
do the right thing,
you can go to the left
and do the wrong thing.
a lot of the younger generation
is going off to the left.
How do you fix that?
If I knew the answer to that
I’d be a multi-billionaire.
Promise you.
-Would… You’re saying
it’s hitting all socioeconomic groups.
-So even just having a good home life
isn’t preventing people
from getting into it?
I’m sure if you’re raised
in a church and good strong parents
it would have to help.
But it doesn’t guarantee
they’re gonna stay on the right path.
-I’m proof of that.
-Here’s one thing to realize.
Here in Appalachia… and previous job
I had I worked all over Eastern Kentucky.
There’s not a family that I can tell you
that I’ve ever seen, known, whatever,
that it hasn’t affected
one way or another.
Now it may not be
your son or your daughter,
your mother, your father,
but it’s a nephew,
or a niece, cousin, whatever.
Every family is affected by it.
85% to 90% of everything we deal with
has to do related
somehow or another to drugs
here in Wayne County.
Whether it’s thefts,
domestics, child abuse, drugs of course,
whatever, I guarantee
it’s that big of a percent.
-It all comes back to drugs?
-Yes, absolutely.
-Okay, so why does Appalachia…
I mean it’s everywhere
but it seems like Appalachia,
historically has been hit harder
or more of the population
has fallen into drugs.
-Well, [coughs] excuse me.
I think one of the big things is…
and Chance can probably say yes,
or I’m right, or I’m wrong.
There’s not a lot for the younger
generation to do growing up.
You know, these school kids,
there’s just not a lot to do.
Even you get out of school,
18 to 25, whatever,
what they got here to do?
They have nothing… unfortunately.
-Okay, well maybe it’s the times too
because I grew up in the countryside.
We always found something to do,
and we had work to do,
and I rode my bike
to see my friends seven miles each way,
and maybe it has
something to do with the times too
-Well I agree with that.
You know, kids nowadays,
how many kids you actually see
out riding a bicycle these days?
You know, they’re all
inside playing the video games, you know?
And it may play a part in it
but when I was growing up
we always had something to do.
We was riding bicycles
or playing basketball or whatever.
You know, not that we had
gymnasiums to go to,
or bowling alleys, whatever.
But we always had things that we did.
But I think a big part now,
they’re sitting inside
playing on them games and social media.
-What I’m doing.
-What you’re doing.
[chuckling] But there’s
a positive to that and a negative to that.
-Sure, sure.
-I just wish there was
somebody could figure this out
and get a stop to it.
I mean I know it’ll never happen
but surely there’s some way
to slow it down or do something, you know?
We’re basically arresting them daily
to do something with illegal narcotics.
I just hope and pray some day
we can say it’s a rarity that we do that.
It’s not about…
a lot of people don’t understand.
At least my perspective, and a lot of
my deputies are the same way.
It’s not about putting somebody in jail.
I had a discussion
with the circuit judge the other day.
It’s getting people on the right path,
doing the right things,
and not destroying their lives.
And that’s what we work for.
-Like Chance’s story?
-Right, absolutely… miracle.
-He went down to the bottom,
he came out, now helping others.
-Right, right.
-So we need more of that?
-But you do see all these factors
at play, whether that be social media,
or the drugs,
everything is sort of
coming together to weaken our youth,
weaken society.
-Right, I agree.
-This isn’t helping the overall picture.
-Right, absolutely.
-Yeah… all right.
Well, thank you, Sheriff.
-I appreciate what you’re doing
and I’m sure proud of this young man.
[Peter] Okay, here are
some numbers the sheriff gave me.
Check this out,
you were talking to someone else there.
Meth in 2015 was
going for $2,000 an ounce.
Now it’s going for $250 an ounce.
-Anybody, they can afford it.
If you can come up with $10
and keep you a buzz all day.
-You can live off government money,
say 700 bucks a month.
-Food stamps.
-Food stamps, and have
a full-blown meth habit,
and afford your life?
Government’s gonna provide you with
a cell phone to make phone calls.
What, they give you a cell phone?
-And WiFi.
-So there’s a piece missing.
Some people do need help sometimes, right?
-These programs,
there’s people that need them.
-There’s people that need them
but they can be used and abused
and there’s that
missing part of maybe oversight.
-Or rehab, what you’re doing.
-Where they just fall through the cracks.
And they have deal with it,
and society has to deal with it.
Yeah, they’re stuck and bound in that.
And here’s the thing, you know,
they’re burning through
these checks and things
and then what are they doing
when they run out of money?
-Stealing weed whackers?
-Yeah, exactly.
-Breaking glass.
-Breaking glass, going to the pawn shops.
Stealing, getting in
mama’s pocket book, whatever.
-You know what
we called it in San Francisco?
-What’s that?
-San Francisco snow.
It’s all the broken glass
you see in parking lots
because people smash your windows
and steal whatever you have.
-Like he said,
it affects all of us, you know?
He’s had issues with
his own family, his own offspring.
Raised by a sheriff
and drug addiction can still come at you.
I was raised by a pastor.
Drug addiction doesn’t care
what you come from,
doesn’t care what your background is.
You know?
-He locked up his own family?
But you know, that’s…
That’s a true honest sheriff.
You know?
Justice is supposed to be
equal for all, right?
So to take a stand
against drug addiction and what’s right,
it’s the things you gotta do,
the tough things, you know?
I mean I have to
take a stand today against…
Against drug addiction,
fight for those that don’t have a voice.
I gotta be the voice
for those that are silenced.
You know, to let them know there is hope.
There is a way out.
You know, if it wasn’t for him,
that sheriff riding me in a cop car,
he spoke life into me.
When I was at my lowest moment
he said, “Look son, I could easily be
in that back seat the same as you are.”
He said,
“We put our britches on the same.”
He said,
“I coulda easily made a turn in my life,
and roles could be reversed.”
And that’s how easy it is,
like he said, it’s all walks of life.
We’re trying to fill a void here.
There’s not a ton to do,
we played basketball,
we rode four-wheelers and stuff, man.
But that became our…
Here’s the thing, the drugs were
so prevalent and readily available
once you did try ’em that become
your new… that was your new hobby.
-Right, but boredom is a decision.
I’ve never been bored in my life.
-Okay, and I grew up in the countryside.
-And so in the winter
we would skate on ice rinks,
we’d all meet up, we’d do that.
We’d BMX bike around everywhere.
We’d have bow and arrow
fights in the woods.
You know, that’s at a younger age
but constantly was doing something.
So I think maybe… this could be
a legitimate theory.
The culture’s changed.
Whereas you don’t see
kids on BMX bikes anymore really.
I mean a little bit but not much.
-And maybe getting out in nature,
and using your imagination,
and having bow and arrow fights
isn’t common place anymore.
-That’s true.
-And it’s the device
that’s taken some of that, I don’t know.
I don’t know, I don’t have kids,
I can’t speak credibly on this,
but I’m just trying to
think what it is because
I mean you’re living in a beautiful place.
And whatever you wanted to get into,
if you wanted to be a track star,
or play music, or whatever,
you can still do it out here, you know?
-Yeah… right.
But I think, you know,
for me, fitting in and acceptance…
I wanted to be
a part of something, you know?
That’s something that
the drug life provided.
‘Cause you were part of something,
something was going on.
At that time,
I looked up to those guys, you know?
I thought they were so cool, man.
Like they had everything going,
they didn’t.
You know, but from the outside looking in,
they had all this cash,
they had this money,
it was just like they could
go do whatever they wanted to.
-Would they get the chicks?
-They would get the chicks, yeah.
-Right here there is now
this Country Farm and Home.
A used car lot sat there.
I ran a used car lot
for Chevrolet at 23 years old.
Man, I excelled at things.
I was a quote-unquote
“functioning addict”.
I would excel at sports,
I excelled at selling cars,
I just never surrendered to God,
and I kept on using these drugs.
I ended up owing the wrong people money,
and I come to my car lot one morning,
tires were slashed on three trucks.
They were carved in the side, man,
and they keyed ’em up,
painted on the sign.
Those were results of my actions.
But once again, like I said,
my story is about me trying to
build my kingdom on my own.
You know, it would rise up
and it was fueled by drugs and addiction,
and it would fall down.
I fell on my face again.
You know, but I continued.
I would go…
Like I said, a few times I went back
and had to go live
with my parents, you know?
After having all this,
and having to move back in,
and then I went on to Alton Blakely Ford
where I met my good friend, Steven Hayes.
I become internet sales manager there.
I had a big glass office,
but I was always using.
I said, man, I have scars
from my 20 years of addiction.
-That’s from injections?
-That’s from injections.
-18 years of injections.
Um, I shot… Oxycodones, Oxycontins,
methamphetamines, Suboxones… cocaine.
-You shot cocaine?
-Huh, didn’t know you could do that.
You know, I have scars.
Physical scars.
Right here,
I took a tactical flashlight to the head.
Drug deal gone bad.
Right here, concrete cinder block.
You know, I’ve got all these scars,
but they healed over time.
Here is the problem.
Scars you can’t see.
The ones right here.
The ones right here.
Those scars are
what people’s gotta get healing from.
For this whole thing to work, man,
and to learn how to live again
you gotta forgive yourself.
That’s what I had to do, man.
The hurts against my kids,
I couldn’t do it for my kids.
I couldn’t do it for my family.
I had to love myself first.
And that’s the only way it works, man,
is giving it to God,
and let him do that healing.
Right there, man.
-So there’s a lot of religion
in these parts, right?
-Fair to say?
-But it’s not working for a lot of people.
-They’re not letting it work.
-They’re not letting it work, okay.
Like I say, you look at AA.
So the resources to help people overcome
these strongholds, man… addictions.
You have AA, NA, faith-based programs.
-But if you go back to the root.
Okay, AA is founded,
and the 12 steps is founded on God.
It’s about repentance, forgiveness.
If you go to the founder of AA,
Bill Wilson’s house, and tour the house,
the man that founded it,
it’s full of Bibles.
The original AA context had Jesus in it.
But just like everything else,
they’ve taken God out of it.
They’re saying you can
put your faith in a door handle
and let it be your higher power.
Bro, it ain’t gonna work.
You know?
I mean it just ain’t going to,
you gotta put faith in God
and have a support group
around you of like-minded people.
I wouldn’t be where I’m at today
if it wasn’t for those people.
I was discipled and raised up
in Life Changer’s Outreach.
I ended up court-ordered to rehab.
You know?
I ended up court-ordered
or I was gonna go sober a year and a half.
And I went for six months,
and I didn’t truly
grasp ahold of anything.
I was trying to fake it
till I made it, you know?
Of the four guys,
to show you the story of addiction,
and what happens.
Four of the guys I was in rehab with
the first time before I truly wanted it
for myself,
me and three other guys, four of us…
So let’s go back
four and a half years ago.
So one of those guys is dead.
The other is serving
20 years in federal prison.
The other one is in rehab right now.
And here I am.
So the odds are stacked against us.
All of us turned back to it for a minute.
One’s dead, one’s in federal prison,
the other one, by grace of God,
is back in recovery,
and I’m here by the grace of God, man.
-So check this out, man.
Local gas station.
You got pipes… everywhere.
Meth pipes.
-That’s a meth pipe?
-But you could put
anything in there, right?
-Yeah, you could put anything in there,
we got scales.
-Scales in the gas station,
I’ve never seen that.
-I used to buy these and keep these
on me to pass my drug test at work.
They’d pop me at any time… I’d be clean.
All this right here, kratom.
-What’s Red Vein?
-All this is kratom.
It’s made out of
some herbs and different things
and it gives an opioid effect.
I’ve heard a lot of guys take this stuff
to try to come off opiates.
But look, gas station dope is still dope.
-But it’s legal obviously.
-It’s legal for now.
So here’s the problem
with a lot of our communities, man.
You know, these people don’t feel like
they have nowhere to turn to.
They’re church hurt.
You know, too many of these churches,
they don’t have their arms open,
their doors open, man,
to people like me.
They’re too worried about
what somebody’s wearing.
Too worried about somebody’s got a tattoo.
-They’re showing these people away.
-Oh, really?
-We got our doors open,
we welcome them in
no matter what state they’re in.
If they’ve been drinking, come on in.
‘Cause these people,
they’ve not been shown love, man.
That’s what they need.
You know, they’ve been hurt by the world,
hurt by everybody, hurt themselves.
-It’s sort of sad at
a gas station you can just buy
stuff that’s gonna help
your habit basically.
-Yeah, you got a whole–
-It’s pretty sad.
-You know, people with chains around
their neck, got that Mr. T starter kit.
Over there you got
your drug dealer starter kit
-Right over there ready to go.
This is one of our
recovery rallies we just had.
People come running, man, into your arms.
They’re wanting something different.
They’re tired of living that way.
Look, you can see
the hurt in this picture, man.
-All right, so you take cities like…
Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles,
you have people doing their drugs
on the streets openly, right?
-You can give them enough money to get by,
services are there to get food,
if they need Narcan, they get Narcan.
-That’s not compassion though is it?
They’re just like
rotting away on the streets.
-They’re letting them
survive and pass through
till the day they go six feet deep.
-So how is that compassion?
-That’s not compassion,
what we’re trying to do is compassion.
If we’re giving these people
a hand-out, we’re not caring about them.
If we’re coming up to ’em, man,
eating with them, sitting with them
like me and you right now.
We ain’t just giving a hand-out
and sending them on their way.
We’re showing them love
’cause that’s what they need,
that’s what their missing
[Chance] We’re in Ferguson,
right outside the Somerset city limits.
-I actually lived in this house down here.
-That one down there?
I lived in that white house
and I lost it.
I lost everything, lost my kid,
I lost my job again.
I ended up living there
with no water, no electric,
eventually couldn’t pay the rent.
This is when I went at my lowest,
my hardest run.
I was completely strung out on meth.
I lost it all.
And I ended up living
in a Better Built barn right down there.
-You lived in that barn?
-I lived in that barn
-Neighbors let me live in it.
-No way.
-Your neighbor let you live there?
-So you went from having a kid.
Your son or daughter was living with you?
-My son.
-To living in that?
-There’s a poverty mindset
that’s grabbed ahold of this region,
a lot of America too, you know?
They’re giving these checks,
you can easily obtain a check.
$700, $800 a month.
They will provide you with housing,
apartment, the government is their savior.
So if the government
has control of these people
and every aspect of their life,
they cover it.
They have ’em in the palm of their hand.
They know no way out.
They’re bound to that.
Like I said, many of ’em
end up using and they’re users,
and they’re stuck in that place
because they have no other option.
Their government is
literally the hand that feeds them.
So it fuels a whole vicious cycle
and generations are birthed out of that
into that, you know?
[Chance] There should be accountability
on all these government services.
How ’bout we drug test these people.
How ’bout if they do fail, let’s give them
an option to get some help.
You know, and then we can try to
reintroduce them to society to get jobs.
Some may not be able to.
They may not have the mental capacity,
but let’s get them clean,
and how many of them could become
productive members of society?
-Okay, what would happen
if you just stopped all the funding?
-I agree that we’re gonna either have
total chaos from some folks
because they’re gonna,
by any means necessary,
get their drugs, whatever they need,
but you’re gonna have some people
that’s gonna grab ahold of the concept,
“Hey, I have to go to work.”
“I have to support myself, my family.”
“This is gone, I gotta do it.”
You have both ends of the spectrum.
So here we go.
This is an area that… [clears throat]
I walked many times.
I lived up here in these apartments.
Basically I would rent a room.
-She’s on something.
-So that situation…
-Just like this,
you’ve got some nice homes here.
-Then you’re going up here
where a lot of activity’s going down.
But this place is
a lot of bad memories up here to me.
Government assisted apartments up here.
Every day, man, I’d be up here.
Have to be hiding from the cops,
man, they would come by here daily.
There’s my buddy right there, my brother.
-What are you doing?
-Nothing, what you been doing?
-C’mere and holler at me.
This is one of those success stories,
this is my brother, David.
-What’s up, brother?
-Not a thing.
-How you doing, David? Peter.
-Pretty good, how are you?
-This is Peter,
been taking him around doing
a documentary on addiction in Appalachia.
We go to church together
and he’s part of Leap of Faith Outreach.
-Oh, great.
-We get to walk
in freedom together, don’t we?
-Oh, yeah, best I ever did.
-How long have you been clean?
-Little over year and a half.
-How’s it feeling?
-It’s great, [laughs]
got money in my pocket nowadays.
[all laughing]
-He works, got a job.
Today, man, he’s
a productive member of society.
-Cool, what are you doing for work?
I work through Somerset Community College
and work for Brother Jordan
three days a week.
-He works at Good Samaritan.
-I’ve actually got cleaned up,
I’ve got my sister-in-law’s two kids
and my two kids.
Which I never had my kids took from me.
-Why do you have
your sister-in-law’s kids?
-Because she went homeless.
The meth took her out,
she went homeless,
sold her house for drugs and everything.
I’ve got full custody of her kids,
she lost full rights to both of ’em.
-Oh, wow.
-I got her kids, I’m raising four now.
-How’s that?
-It’s great, they’ve got better lives now.
-David, what do you use
for anything like a release?
Like you’re vaping.
-I eat chocolate bars, what do you do?
-You’re vaping, all right.
-I was telling him I used to…
I would basically rent
a couch or a room up here
a couple of these apartments
back in the day, you know?
They’re trying to
clean this place up, man.
-That’s something
I never had to do was go homeless,
I always had a place to live.
When I was 23, I lost my first youngin’
through the hospital,
pretty much at one time.
-You lost your first what?
-First kid,
the hospital kept my first kid.
-Oh, I’m sorry.
-I always had a place to live,
but my house didn’t have nothing in it.
When I got on drugs
I sold pictures, everything.
I pretty much had
a bed in the house, that was about it.
-Good to see those success stories, man.
-Oh, yeah.
So when I see you,
who used for so long and them some of
these other guys that used for so long
you can tell there’s permanent damage.
Where their eyes are drifting,
motions are quick and whatnot.
You don’t have that issue.
But some, depending on what,
just by fate or luck?
It totally like–
-You know, I had some quirks for a while
but it seems like they went away.
For example, I knew guys
that used meth for so long that
literally, you ever see
people walking like this?
-I’m sure you have.
-Yeah, sure.
-Even when they come off of it
their hands are still…
-Still have these motions that are…
-Oh, yeah.
-And for…
This is government housing, right?
-Well, some places they do pay rent.
Some of them are government assisted.
-He has a job and stuff, he pays–
-Those places look better
than so many places
in most of the world.
Like that looks way better
than where I lived in Ukraine.
-So it’s not necessarily the structure.
-Or how well the electricity works,
it’s more the internal…
-Yeah, when I was up here
there’d be cops every day.
Just driving around busting people
left and right, I’m sure it still goes on.
It just depends on what time of day
you’re up here and the time.
That was the case with me
on the outside looking in for years,
I was doing good.
By world standards, and looking at me,
you wouldn’t know I was an addict.
You wouldn’t know that I just got done
doing a shot of dope in the bathroom
and I’m selling you a car right now.
-Interesting, so there’s
a lot of that in society, huh?
-You’re talking to your banker,
or your accountant, or your car dealer.
-Teachers teaching
your kids at school might be high.
I mean that was the case
back then with people I knew.
I actually saved
a school teacher from overdosing.
He’s clean and off drugs today, man.
It scared me to death, man.
I was thinking I’m gonna have to
be the one to call an ambulance.
-So the school administration isn’t
realizing that some teachers are on dope?
-I don’t think
the accountability’s not there
because who thinks that
a school teacher’s gonna be on dope?
I’m sure the random drug testing
there is non-existent probably.
They might test ’em
once a year, I don’t know.
Maybe when they get on, never again?
I just think society as a whole needs
a better level of accountability.
[clears throat]
You know, who’s naturing
and nurturing our kids, man?
And we have to look at that,
society as a whole.
If everybody held everybody accountable
this world would be a much better place.
This is from government officials on.
They just found cocaine
in the White House the other day?
I mean c’mon.
♪ somber country ♪
[Chance] Rolling up to
the Next Chapter Recovery Program
in Whitley City, Kentucky.
This is one of the most devastated areas.
It’s been ravaged by drug addiction.
But today there’s hope here.
We’re all united,
so Leap of Faith Outreach,
Saint John’s Recovery, The Next Chapter,
Protia, Come On Recovery,.
There’s all these programs
and options available for folks now.
[Peter] What got you into this
or what inspired you two to do this?
[Cindy] I’ve had a lot of lost family
and then I have a son.
Who is an alcoholic.
So it’s in my heart.
-I’ve been told today
everyone’s been touched
with the drug issue in Appalachia.
Pretty much everyone, it’s sort of
all over the country now.
-It is, it’s ubiquitous, it’s everywhere.
Um, for us here in Southeast Kentucky,
this is just a passion for us.
I worked in law enforcement
for almost 20 years.
I saw the law enforcement
wasn’t really working
and to me, I had a lot of family
that’s either died of addiction
or incarcerated because of addiction.
I wanted to see something different,
this is something
I wanted to do for 15 years.
-How you doing, guys?
I got the camera going this way.
-We’re gonna go straight
back to that garden.
Is anyone opposed to being on-camera?
-I don’t care.
-You do?
[group chuckling]
-That’s Alvin, his image is copyrighted,
so you’ll have to pay royalties.
-If my wife blurs your face
in the edit is that okay?
-I’m fine with it.
-Okay, Alvin’s in, cool.
-We’ll just slide through there.
-Thanks guys.
-How’s it going so far?
-It’s going good.
-It’s a great place.
-Yeah, where you from?
-From Kentucky?
-I’m from McCreary County
-Okay, McCreary County,
are all you guys from Kentucky?
-No sir, I’m from Tennessee.
-Yes, sir.
-What do you think of Kentucky?
-Uh, it’s pretty good.
-I like it out here.
-Where’s the bluegrass better?
-Uh, I don’t know.
-This might get you in trouble.
[all chuckling]
-So all you guys are cool
with being on-camera, no problems?
-Yes, sir.
-Thank you.
Do they get into this?
[Anthony] They’re the ones
that grew it all.
-You’re eating all this here?
-Oh, yeah,
-Oh, cool.
-They’ve had squash,
and peppers, tomatoes, cabbage.
-Oh, nice.
I gotta imagine there’s
some marijuana grows out in these hills?
-Actually Kentucky rivaled California
and I forget what the other state is
for marijuana production for decades.
[Anthony] All right,
so what we do with the sledgehammer
is when we’ve got some
built-up frustration and aggravation
we take it out on these tires.
And if you notice
one of the tires is all about negativity.
That’s the one that gets the most abuse.
The other tire is positive.
But that negative tire
gets a whole lot of abuse.
So who’s first to
get rid of some frustration?
[Man] So a lot of times
I feel unworthy, and not loved, lonely.
[Man 2] Take a swing at that.
[Anthony] Take a swing at it, buddy.
[tire rolling]
[encouraging chatter]
[Anthony] Put them muscles to work.
[Anthony] What’s your negativity, brother?
-There you go,
that’s good, that’s real good.
-Jordie, nice to meet you, man.
-How’s it going right now for you?
-It’s going good,
this program saved my life, I was–
-This program saved your life?
-It really did, I was at
the bottom of my ropes.
If it wouldn’t been for Miss Cindy
I probably wouldn’t be alive.
I overdosed five times.
-Miss Cindy really saved my life.
-What did you OD on?
-I lost my dad
a year ago to a Fentanyl overdose.
-I’m sorry, man.
-I just felt lost, man.
I really wanted to see
what that high was like, man.
I died five times on it and it really…
I didn’t feel nothing then
when I finally got locked up
I was looking at a lot of time.
I had a…
Had somebody tell me,
“Why don’t you try rehab?”
Miss Cindy’s rehab really saved my life.
Saved my life, and my kids too,
and I can’t thank you enough.
You’ve done a lot for me.
-I love you.
-I love you too.
I’ve got my family back now
and I’ve got a lot of hope now.
I didn’t feel nothing
and now I’ve been doing this program
and I’ve really got
a different outlook on life.
-How many kids do you have?
-Got four.
-Four, they’re waiting for you to get out?
They go to church with me
every Sunday, I get to see my kids.
You know, up until now,
I just got baptized last Sunday,
the last four years I’ve not got
a sober picture with my kids.
-You what?
I ain’t got a sober picture
with my kids, I was never sober.
But now I’m gonna get
the first picture I take sober.
-It really means a lot.
-Oh, wow.
-I ain’t been there for ’em.
I sold drugs man,
to pay for everything they had.
It wasn’t a life man, it wasn’t.
Cindy has been really good,
her and Anthony both have.
They’ve opened a great program here.
-Are you married?
-She waiting for you?
I thought my marriage was gone,
thought everything was gone, dude.
So there is hope?
-There’s hope, you just gotta
keep pushing, you gotta fight for it.
If you don’t do it for yourself,
man, you’ll never make it.
You gotta want it,
and you gotta want it every day, man.
You gotta wake up every day and strive
to be better than what you was yesterday.
-So Miss Cindy,
when I’m in America’s cities, right?
I’m in Los Angeles, San Francisco,
you see everyone on the streets
on Fentanyl living in tents.
Now the approach there is just sort of
let ’em be and give them enough to get by.
But how do you bring someone
from that when they’re in the drugs?
You guys can answer better than me.
When you’re in the drugs,
how do you know to get out?
Like what makes that change?
I guess there’s the law
if you commit a crime
but if you don’t then how do you get out?
-They just have to want it.
When you see the…
They have to want it to get out of it
if the law doesn’t bring ’em here.
Hopefully there’s
something inside of ’em that, um…
-That creates a change?
-And that they…
For some of ’em
it’s life or death and they know that.
You have four kids and a wife,
it’s like you don’t have a choice.
You have to…
-Man, I really thought
it was all gone until I come here.
-Sir, do you want to speak at all?
-Okay, man.
-I’m thinking love,
it’s hard to love yourself
when you feel like no one else does.
The love from the community,
knowing somebody does care about you
and I think also hitting rock-bottom.
Being at your lowest,
there’s nowhere to go but up.
So you’re from the area?
-I’m from Arkansas
but I live in Nashville now.
-Okay, what drugs were you on
if you don’t mind me asking?
-Doing a lot of alcohol.
-Alcohol, okay.
So how do you get out of like…
Like you were the one that made
the decision that got you here,
or your family, or who did it?
It was mostly me wanting to change,
wanting something better for yourself.
Wanting to have a future.
Actually wanting to live.
Caring about yourself
is really an important thing for me
because I lost a lot of family members,
lost my mom, lost my dad,
and I felt like I was all alone
until I found a family.
Until I found a home, until I found Jesus.
-I quit alcohol eight years ago.
Best decision of my life.
-Feel a lot better?
-I wouldn’t be doing this.
-Freedom, yes.
-Not having to chase it,
being financially secure,
wanting a house,
having a future, a career.
Poverty really does exist though.
So knowing that the world
is getting more expensive
and you’re never gonna have
anything in your life,
you’re never gonna have a family,
a future, a career, a house, a vehicle.
Having children…
Who’s gonna want to have children
with you while you’re living in a tent?
-Were you in a tent? Were you that low?
-In a tent a couple times.
-On the streets?
I was one step away
from being there again.
I found the Salvation Army,
so Salvation Army helped me.
Living in a rescue mission,
the conditions are horrible,
but the people are
trying their best to help you.
I mean give you a bed
to sleep in and they have resources also.
So reaching out to resources,
being around other homeless people.
That’s how I found the Salvation Army.
I talked to a guy while I was in jail.
Nashville’s trying
to help homeless people.
They bought a couple hotels,
so they’re putting tent people.
They’ll go down to Tent City
and feed people every day.
So apparently the city
bought a couple hotels.
They’re putting people
from Tent City into hotels.
Tent City’s still getting bigger.
-Yeah, because a lot of people in tents,
at least on Skid Row in Los Angeles,
most of those people want to be there,
or at least that’s the drugs speaking.
They don’t want to go to a facility
where they have rules
and have to be sober.
That’s the last thing they want.
They want the adventure of the streets,
and to be on Fentanyl or whatever it is.
Easier to afford it
when you don’t have to pay rent.
-Don’t have to pay rent,
you can spend your money on Fentanyl.
-Fentanyl is how much these days?
[Man] Dirt cheap.
[Peter] Dirt cheap?
And meth is dirt cheap?
-Oh yeah, dirt cheap.
Sheriff said 2015, it was $2,000 an ounce,
now it’s $250 an ounce.
-$120 an oune.
-$120 an ounce?
-Pretty accessible, easy to find, right?
-And how ’bout the vegetables here,
they pretty good?
[all laughing]
-Lot of cabbage.
-Let us know, sir. What were you saying?
-That America’s flooded with dope.
Little cities, big cities, major cities.
Like the flood gates are open to America.
-Okay, when did it really start
getting bad with drugs on the streets?
I mean it’s always been there
but when did it really start going up?
How many years ago?
-What I’ve seen,
maybe about six, seven years ago.
That’s when it started
becoming readily available.
Once you get started, it’s hard to stop.
Really is hard to stop.
This is my seventh or eighth
treatment center.
My son’s 25, he’s a deputy sheriff now.
He told me
the day before I come to treatment,
he called me, asked me
if I wanted to be cremated or be buried.
I told him, said, “F*ck you, man.”
I said “I’m going to treatment.”
He said, “You just gonna
get high when you get out.”
So how you gonna not
get high when you get out?
-Well, I’m getting tools,
recovery tools when I get out.
Have a maintenance program in place.
-‘Cause I would think
the structure and the community
is everything that makes it work here.
Now if you left his today,
and went out to some holler,
and you didn’t know everyone,
it could be easy to slip, right?
So how do you keep that community?
-You gotta stay plugged in.
-You gotta stay plugged in? Okay.
-I got almost five years clean in October
and recovery is every day.
I have to stay plugged in to recovery.
-To a network of guys?
-Yes, my support system, like Mike, Will,
all these guys right here, Anthony,
Chad, the events he puts on,
Numerous people.
You know, I tell these guys all the time,
the phone I had in rehab
probably had about 200 contacts in it.
Which was acquaintances.
People that would use me for what I had
or I could get
something I needed from you.
The phone I got today has probably got
about 600, 700 contacts in it
that I’ve met through being in recovery,
going through rehab,
reaching out at meetings,
getting my network built-up,
because if I count on one person
to answer his phone, if I call Mike,
he doesn’t answer his phone,
and I’m having a bad day,
I’m going to get high.
But if I have a network of people
where I can call this person,
this person, this person,
this person, somebody’s gonna answer.
And I’m gonna be all right,
I’m gonna make it through today.
You know, we like…
I tell these guys all the time,
just for today, because that’s all we got.
That’s all we’re promised is today.
-You were raised by, I’m sorry…
-A drug dealer, that’s what my dad was.
My dad sold dope, meth, sold all the time.
He… From the time I was eight years old
till I was 13, we got raided six times.
-Yeah, they come kicked our door in,
put us on the ground in hand cuffs,
and that’s just little kids.
I got to spend two years
on the street with my dad my whole life.
-So you have to change
the cycle for your kids?
-I don’t want my kids
growing up like that, man.
It’s hard enough looking at them
knowing that I’m…
They’re gonna have to
know that part of me
but I don’t want my kids like that,
I really don’t
It’s been the worst
part of my life on drugs,
you gotta break the cycle
and not want to do it.
[Anthony] We have semi-private rooms.
We just have two people in each room.
Some rehabs put
a lot of people in a small room.
-We don’t do that.
We’re really proud
of our facility for keeping it small.
This is one of my favorite rooms,
this is called the war room.
If you ever watch the movie The War Room,
this is where we got that idea from.
So this is where our clients come
to get alone, to have chapel, to pray,
write their prayers down,
have other folks pray for them.
[rock music from speakers]
-I was a $2.00 needle junkie.
No good, manipulating thief, liar.
I was everything the county labeled me as
and I just celebrated
a little over seven years June 1st.
-I lost my real dad to an overdose
of a fake 30… Fentanyl 30.
He’s been gone a year, at 70 years old.
My step dad is doing
eight years right now at 69 years old
for trafficking methamphetamine,
second offense.
I grew up in the game, you know?
A dope home… money, guns, and drugs.
Taught a lot of core beliefs,
believed those core beliefs.
Done everything from A to Z.
You know,
I’ll do whatever to get to feel better.
But it took me hitting rock bottom,
and suicide, and a pistol in my lap,
with a needle in my arm
when my mom walked in,
and I was 36 years old.
And she told me to get everything I had.
Which was a backpack,
pair of tennis shoes, and six cigarettes,
and get out of her house,
and don’t come back.
I come from king size bed, silk sheets,
Corvettes, Escalades,
Tahoes, big screen TVs,
I mean I had the life you saw on TV.
I was miserable on the inside,
having to look over my shoulder.
who was gonna get me?
When the law was gonna get me.
High on dope, um…
Get pulled over,
“God don’t let them find the dope.”
“I’ll never haul dope again.”
and they never found the dope,
and what did I do?
What we always do.
But mom finally said,
“Get out of my house.”
Mom never told me no.
I ended up in a homeless shelter
in Lexington, Kentucky.
I’ve always asked God to help me.
You know, help me get out of this,
get out of that, not get caught,
and that night I was scared,
I didn’t have nobody.
All them friends I said I had,
nobody would help me.
I stole from ’em.
Took TVs, rob, steal, cheat,
you know what I’m saying?
It’s what we do.
But I said a prayer that night,
“God, if you’re real,
help me, I’m done, I surrender.”
I woke up the next day
and I wasn’t thinking about getting high.
You know, um…
That was my moment, and I meant it.
And I knew there was
something out there greater than me,
and I had to put something over dope,
and I say dope from A to Z,
alcohol is a drug.
I entered long-term treatment
for the first time at 36 years old,
and for the first time they hugged me,
and I told ’em to get off me,
we don’t hug, men don’t hug.
And they said, “I love you.”
That’s all I wanted to be told,
“I’m proud of you and I love you.”
I have a network,
Cliff said it best, we gotta plug in.
If you kill a deer,
put it in the refrigerator
and unplug it, what happens?
The meat goes bad.
If I unplug from God and recovery,
I’m gonna be high within 24 hours
but through recovery
and long-term treatment,
this is what I do,
I help people, I’m a hope dealer.
I’m not a dope dealer,
I’ve been on TV 14 times.
Been in magazines,
I spoke for the governor,
I have a podcast, I have jail programs,
I travel and speak to schools,
I don’t get paid to do all this,
God rewards me.
I have a wife today,
I have two beautiful kids,
I’m 43,
[welling up] I’m a father today.
I have kids.
I have people who depend on me.
I have guys that feel the same way
that I felt over seven years ago.
And there’s hope.
Get out of your way.
I never dreamed I’d be
doing what I’m doing today, man.
God’s got a plan for all of us.
When that door opens
you got to make a choice to go through it.
I never dreamed I’d be doing this,
magazine and newspapers.
Doing recovery rallies,
putting people in treatment,
my wife owns
recovery homes in Madison County.
We have a 16 bed for men,
a 16 bed for women,
Corbin’s House, which is my little boy.
The Jasmine’s House
is my step-daughter, she’s 23.
And my wife has got
seven and a half years.
She’s… [clears throat]
She’s the boss, you know?
I’m the dumbest tool in the shed
but I’m the shiniest wrench in the box.
I can survive, I use my voice
and my story because there’s hope.
For me, church is not my story,
the Bible is not my story.
I don’t know the Bible but I mean
I’m the devil when I put dope in me.
I’m a good person when I’m dealing hope.
We’re either taught bad
or we learn bad.
Like I knew right from wrong.
I knew not to steal
but I stole.
I know I can go to jail
for making methamphetamine
but it’s the thrill of not getting caught.
It’s the thrill of doing it.
But when you’re taught
all this negative stuff from a dope home,
from a convict house,
nine times out of ten, you’re gonna
grow up to be just like you was raised in.
Dropped out of school, no GED, no nothing.
I could hustle.
And today I have a GED,
I have my license,
my vehicle’s in my name
Electric bill’s in my name,
the same phone for seven years.
The same number, don’t gotta change it,
and throw the burner phone away.
I can get pulled over and I can give them
my ID because I’m not worried about it.
Today I ride with police,
I live in Richmond, I’m from Corbin,
and the police call me,
“Hey man, I got this guy.”
“Can you get him some help?”
and I can get him help.
God has blessed me with
this place, that place, everywhere.
Listen, you can go into
any county and get dope,
and I can go to any county and get hope.
It’s the same principles.
-So if someone wants help
in Kentucky, they can get it?
-It’s available?
-Within 30 minutes.
-Within 30 minutes anywhere in the state?
-So there’s no lack of support system?
-I recover out loud because
I’m tired of losing people in silence.
I was scared to say, “Hey, I need help.”
As a man that’s the hardest three words
you’re ever gonna say is I need help.
But I promise that’s
the most rewarding three words
you’re ever gonna say is I need help.
Pride and ego.
I was taught to be hard,
don’t show weakness.
And if you’re gonna cry,
little baby, go in your room and cry.
And today it’s okay for me to cry
because I know I’ll
feel better when I cry.
God gave us tears for a reason.
But we’ll say, “Can I have some dope?
I’m hurtin’,
I don’t have no money, I’m broke.”
but you can’t say, “Hey man, can you
help me learn how to wash my clothes
or shave my beard, or cook a steak?”
-You know what I’m saying?
-That’s real.
That’s the real talk
because of what we was taught,
we don’t gotta be tough, man.
Tough people die
because they don’t say, “I need help.”
There’s so many resources, man,
the war on drugs is not going anywhere.
It’s not, we can not stop it.
I can’t stop it.
Us, as a team, we can save one.
We can’t save ’em all.
I’m here to help one,
I’ve helped more than one today.
In 2012 I was diagnosed with cancer.
-Um, I’ve done treatments, two surgeries,
and the doctor I was going to said,
I’m a manipulator
and these pills don’t work
because they’re not worth
no money and they don’t get me high
The doctor said,
“Hey, what makes you feel better?”
You can’t tell me what your pain is
and I can’t tell you what your pain is.
But me not disclosing
I’m a $2.00 needle junkie,
and you ask a drug addict
what kind of pill makes you feel better?
I want something I can sell
and something I can get high on.
[crowd agreeing]
And they’ll write it.
I’m a cancer survivor,
ten years remission, I can leave here now
make me a doctor’s appointment,
they’ll give me any pill I ask for.
That’s Kentucky for you.
-So your wife used too?
-We met in treatment.
-You guys met in treatment?
What a change.
What were you saying about a phone?
-The phone just traps people.
These government phones
enable drug dealers.
It enables the transactions,
that’s the network.
When we have folks
that want to leave here early
so they can go on to
the next phase of treatment
and do as Cliff said, grow, and continue
to build that bond and that network.
The first thing they do
is they want their phone.
I’ve taken folks down the road
to drop them off at a place
as the owner of a rehab.
That person can’t communicate
with you from working their network
of drug dealers trying to
reach out to them trying
to get that fix as they’re leaving here.
The jails have become
almost human-trafficking places.
They make a lot of money
brokering folks from one jail to another.
If this jail is over capacity
then they’ll transport people
to other locations.
Then if you get into juvenile detention,
that’s a real money maker there.
Jails have systems set up where
they sell cell phones and vape pens,
and all kinds of other things,
and make a ton of money.
It’s a real money making machine
for a lot of places in a lot of counties.
Now you’ll find a lot of jails
that claim they’re near bankrupt
They may be or maybe
there’s just so much corruption there.
On top of all that, you hear about
jails being corrupt, they are corrupt.
Because you can go into jail…
I was talking to somebody
earlier about prison,
and the person was telling me,
“I can get any drug I wanted
in prison at any time.”
That person’s here with us now.
[Man] I started using in prison.
[Peter] You started using drugs in prison?
-I just did four years in prison.
I would literally watch three ounces
of Fentanyl every two weeks
get dropped off in prisons.
-What prison?
-CCA prisons across Tennessee.
-It gets right through?
-Guards drop it off.
Easy, drones drop it off from the sky.
-Drones come into the prison?
They fly over and just drop it.
They send somebody out to go get a pack.
You can get needles in prison,
you can get Suboxen in prison,
meth in prison,
cocaine, crack, whatever you want
you can get it in prison.
-So you don’t go to prison
to become clean it sounds like.
No, you do not.
You do not.
When you go to prison
you’re in survival mode.
It’s either kill or be killed.
So you can either get with it or not.
They’re basically just
putting you in there for the money.
It’s not to help you,
it’s not to save you.
‘Cause basically you’re just
fighting against everybody in there.
Everybody takes a piece of metal,
sharpens it up, has a knife.
Where they can kill you,
I’ve watched people die being in prison.
I’ve watched people
get raped being in prison.
I’ve watched… everything.
People get beat to death.
First one I ever seen, a guard.
25 inmates stomped
a guard’s face out unrecognizable.
He was 90% brain dead when they
Life Flighted him off the compound.
They can’t stop nothing.
-And that guy’s making
10, 12 bucks an hour?
-About that, yeah.
So basically they’re putting
their life on the line for what, nothing?
So of course
they’re gonna take bribery money.
If an inmate comes to tells you,
“Hey look, you fixin’ to do this.”
“If not, we’re gonna kill you.”
What are you gonna do?
Quit your job?
We’ll send somebody
on the street and find your family.
That’s what they do.
It goes worldwide.
It don’t just stop
in one state, the next state,
one county, next county,
it goes everywhere.
The pandemic on drugs is everywhere.
All across the United States,
not just here.
But you have to
take a stand at one point in time
When you finally hit rock bottom
you gotta find a place.
A place like this.
These people have reached out
and helped me in every way that they can.
I wanted to get up and leave today.
I didn’t.
Why? Because this man over here
taught me not to.
Taught me to give him a chance
to make my life better.
I made a promise to him
that I’d give him that chance.
And that’s why I stayed here today.
I’m over a week clean… sober.
And I’m proud of it.
[encouraging clapping]
[Peter] All right, well that was awesome.
Thanks for bringing us in.
-Good stuff.
-Glad to have y’all… honored.
-The main thing
I want people to know though
is no matter how dark it seems right now,
no matter… there’s no hope in your life,
it seems like there’s no way out,
there is a way out.
-I want you guys to know
that you can make it out of this pit.
-I’m proof of that.
I should be six foot deep
or in a prison the rest of my life,
but the grace of God will prevail.
Give it to God, trust the process,
there’s people willing to help you.
You know, just like here.
If you’re in Kentucky,
Leap of Faith Outreach,
-Check us out of Facebook.
Link down below in the description, guys.
-All these people you have seen today…
The restoration, it’s there guys.
Don’t give up hope.
-Good stuff.
Without people like you,
there’s no way a lot of us
would have an understanding
of what’s going on.
I want to say that is,
what the guys said at the center,
tip of the iceberg.
-We just touched the surface.
But I learned a lot today.
So thank you.
Thanks for coming along on that journey.
Until the next one.
♪ somber country ♪

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