Opioid addiction in Roane County is getting out of control, according to Sheriff Jack Stockton.
He said their office handles up to 1,200 calls a year with 65 percent involving drug related crimes, specifically opioids and methamphetamine.
His deputies, like Brooke Barger, said it's been tough seeing familiar faces fall victim to the cycle of abuse. Barger said almost every call she goes on, she comes across opiate-related drugs."It
really tugs at your heartstrings," she said.
It's a problem that hits home for Sheriff Stockton as his son has been in and out of jail since he was 18 years old because of an addiction to opioid drugs.
messed up with a family that was involved with selling the pills, cooking methamphetamine, and he just went downhill from there. He's in his mid 30's now. We haven't spoken or seen each other in almost 4 years. He's locked up now. He's just like one of the people locked up here. The cycle can't be broken," Sheriff Stockton shared, as he cleared his throat.
It's heartbreaking for Stockton, knowing his son is stuck in the cycle of abuse and he's done everything he can to help him.
"Emotionally, it's hard to come to work and keep a positive attitude and a smile on your face and when you go back in the jail, and see people that remind you of your son and that addiction," Stockton said, "It makes you sad in your heart. And you bleed for them and I do have compassion even on every inmate here. And I guess it's because of the personal issues I've dealt with in my own family."
Instead of dwelling on the hurt and pain, Sheriff Stockton is using his son's addiction to fuel the fight and motivate his deputies to stay diligent on duty.
"It's an ongoing battle and anytime you have an epidemic that surfaces you have to learn how to deal with it, by being proactive," Sheriff Stockton shared.
He said the opiate problem is trickling down into every corner in his community, including the jail.
"All of them, back there, have drug issues and drug problems. I'd say 95 percent probably," Stockton said.
According to Sheriff Stockton, the Roane County Jail is 110 percent full. He said they are a 170 bed facility but they've been up to 260 people in the last several years.
"It's a vicious cycle and it never ends. The repeat, the recidivism rate in Roane County is probably 85 to 90%," he shared.
While Sheriff Stockton said he doesn't have an exact answer to the growing opioid epidemic, he said it's important to continue to stay positive because he has a job to do and he has a son he loves and cares about.
"You do have emotions and a lot of people don’t think we do but we do and we bleed like every one else and we hurt like every body else and it’s society that keeps us going. All of the people that we know may be the only breathe of life or hope that they have to something positive for them," Stockton shared.