NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – When Heather Cook walked through the doors of a local nonprofit recovery facility, she was scared but hopeful.
“I cried. The first four or five days, it’s hard, but you have to be strong and stick with it,” she said.
The alternative for Cook was to risk overdosing again. She’d already had that happen several times.
“The first three times was when I first started doing it, and I just went out and had friends that got me in the shower and brought me back,” she told News 2.
She overdosed for a fifth time in the bathroom where she worked, after which she decided it was a critical time to get help.
“I didn’t want to die, especially like that. The pain I was putting my family through was tormenting,” Cook said.
Her drug addiction has left a trail of broken relationships, including losing custody of her son.
“Just felt terrible about it, about myself. Just something missing, and so that’s just what drove me to do it,” explained the now-recovering addict.
At The Next Door recovery facility for women, Cook could safely detox from heroin and receive intensive care both physically and psychologically.
Coordinator and counselor Lanjericha Finch says she treats many women suffering with that addiction.
“The mission of The Next Door is really to provide a continuum of services for women that are dealing with addiction, dealing with mental illness, that are dealing with trauma or incarceration to help them and their families and we really strive to provide that with Christ centered compassionate care,” she explained.
Finch says she’s seeing more women come into the facility addicted to heroin, and many are young.
“We’re seeing them come in and the younger they are the less life skills they have the less coping skills they have, the less insight they have,” she told News 2.
There’s also a stigma associated with drug addiction that can make rehabilitation more difficult.
Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long says efforts are made to help addicts who become incarcerated, but more recovery facilities are needed.
“We’ve got to try to turn the tide by getting some treatment facilities that will accept these people,” Long said.
He continued, “Trying to get some programs that will help to get them diverted and get them back on the right track.”
The sheriff told News 2 the problem is everywhere, and the drug itself is more intense and deadly.
“We’re seeing the people mix it with different things, and it’s deadly when they start mixing it, in particular with Fentanyl is the real dangerous thing we’re facing,” Long explained.
Cook knows the odds of staying off heroin after rehab are not in her favor. That’s why she’s transitioning to a sober living community as she prepares the exit The Next Door.
“It’s just gonna be great to live life sober we take walks to the park, a whole different ball game. It’s beautiful. Never really noticed it. Just a whole new outlook on life,” she said.
To learn more about The Next Door, which is located just off Charlotte Avenue near Midtown, visit their website at TheNextDoor.org. They are a women-only facility.