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April 18, 2017

County jail intensifies its effort to help addicts

Photos/Lawrence Emerson
Lt. Greg Harris and Cpl. Kristin Nicholas discuss the program with Chris Connell of the McShin Foundation.
We’re a peer-to-peer recovery organization. What we do is offer hope and love to persons who want to recover. They have to want it
— Chris Connell, McShin Foundation community outreach coordinator
McShin Foundation
• What: Peer-to-peer addiction recovery program.

• Founded: 2004 by recovering addicts.

• Headquarters: Richmond

• Offering: A range of counseling and residential programs.

• Budget: $1.6 million in fiscal 2016.

• Website:

• Annual report: Click here
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Fauquier County’s jail next month will start a program in which addicts help addicts.

The Richmond-based McShin Foundation will provide support and training for intensive counseling of inmates who struggle with substance abuse.

“We’re a peer-to-peer recovery organization,” said Chis Connell, a Fauquier native who volunteers in community outreach for McShin. “What we do is offer hope and love to persons who want to recover.

“They have to want it,” Ms. Connell, 46, added. “We can still offer them love, but they have to want to recover.”

“Anna” (not her real name), a 36-year-old Fauquier resident and recovering addict, will undergo training to work as a “facilitator” for three-hour daily sessions with inmates.

“Before I was 17, I was a full-blow, intravenous heroin abuser,” Anna said Tuesday morning at a press briefing in the Fauquier County Adult Detention Center. “It really spiraled quickly from there.”

She watched fellow addicts, including pregnant women, shoot heroin. Many of her friends died.

“I overdosed several times,” Anna said.

She grew up “in a religious house, with loving, supportive parents, thank goodness,” the married mother of three added.

Although she got clean, Anna still worries about her addiction and wants to help others. She has experience working with at-risk youngsters at Somerville Mansion in Southern Fauquier.

Anna said Lt. Greg Harris, the second in command at the jail, “really helped save my life” with support during her struggle with drug abuse.

Founded in 2004, McShin uses the premise that those who’ve battled addiction have credibility and experience to help other addicts recover.

“The first time you jump out of a plane, do you want somebody’s whose pulled that ripcord?” Anna asked when explaining her interest.

The jail already hosts Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other recovery meetings.

But, the McShin program will provide more intensive support, according to Capt. Mark Lavoie, who oversees the detention center.

A many as one-quarter of the jail’s 90 inmates would qualify for the program, Capt. Lavoie estimated.

“We want to make sure people in the program really want to be there,” Cpl. Kristin Nicholas said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people who want help.”

McShin will set up the program at no charge. The jail will use canteen funds — from the sale of toiletries and snacks — to purchase DVDs, books and other materials for the recovery program.

Opioid abuse has grown common in Fauquier as it has across the nation. Last year, 22 people died of drug overdoses in the county. The sheriff’s office and Warrenton Police Department have intensified efforts with community outreach, education and the use of Narcan to reverse the effects of overdoses, saving lives.

As part of the community effort, McShin recently trained 28 people in Fauquier as “recovery coaches” through the Come As You Are group.

The Richmond foundation’s connection with Fauquier happened by chance.

Sheriff’s Capt. Ray Acors called Ms. Connell, a 1991 Fauquier High School graduate, after she applied for a criminal investigator position. She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Liberty University in 2012.

But, before Capt. Acors’ call, she got involved — deeply involved — with McShin.

Ms. Connell’s 23-year-old daughter has undergone residential drug addiction treatment four times without success.

Trying to help her daughter, the Caroline County resident turned to McShin and quickly became a community outreach volunteer. She has helped build the program in Fredericksburg, where McShin will open a recovery center on Saturday, May 13.

The foundation would like to open one in Fauquier as well, and Ms. Connell has begun looking for space.

McShin also operates group homes, with a total of 170 beds for recovering addicts, in and around Richmond.

Advocates see a need for such homes in Fauquier, where zoning makes opening them a significant challenge.

While the new program in the jail will help, Lt. Harris said the substance abuse problem extends to all aspects of the community, which has relatively few places to address the need.
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BJ · April 22, 2017 at 3:14 pm
The is definitely a line that no matter who crosses it or what is done, that once crossed there is no going back, or do overs. My biggest frustration is how the victims of the abusers/addicts are left to deal with their pain, usually in silence because either they don't want their family member to get into legal trouble or out of shame. To truly heal, everyone involved needs counseling. The anger and betrayal can literally eat you up from the inside out. Thank you for "getting" where I am coming from Virtus, yet for me to heal I have to let go of the anger. I envy your ability to forgive, but for me once that trust was lost, for me it was lost permanently.
Virtus · April 21, 2017 at 7:12 pm
Having personally experienced the impact of others' addiction, I fully understand BJ's feelings of anger.

How would you feel if you came home to your basement patio door bashed in by a repeat offender burglar addicted to heroin? Or finding out your sister stole your mother's jewelry that you were to inherit so your sister could support her addiction to pain killers?

I believe a combination of psychiatric assistance is required along with counseling to keep addicts clean.

Fortunately, my sister is still in recovery and has made it her life mission to counsel recovering addicts.

While I can forgive my sister's as well as the burglar's crimes, I most likely will never forget their actions.

As a result, I no longer trust my sister and no longer feel truly safe in my home due to how my home safety was violated.
Jim Griffin · April 20, 2017 at 10:13 am
BJ: Agreed, medical professionals are part of the problem and need to be part of the solution. Especially those drug manufacturers incentived like street dealers for profit. It is alleged the drug companies and their distributors are well aware of those who push their pills past appropriate limits.

Ultimately, these problems will always be with us, thus the need for treatment options. It is very difficult to protect people from themselves.

The most we can do, in my amateur opinion, is to be present for them when and if they opt for treatment. Government is a proven failure when it works to attack the mechanism of addiction, which is beyond its reach no matter how well-intended our efforts at intervention.

In some ways, the allure of the forbidden fruit plays into the problem, as does the reality that illicit sellers undercut legitimate access with lower prices and easier availability. Getting people into the treatment system is the main obstacle and the illegal nature of the drugs contributes to the problems they create.

As a result, we hope to overcome the stigma attached to treatment, and to intervene at those moments where continued addiction is least attractive. Jail, to cite one example, which is more a consequence of associated behaviors than it is drug use itself.

BJ, you do seem to have retained quite a reserve wisdom in spite of the extraction of your wisdom teeth. It is good to read your thoughtful comments and caring, which remains alive (although your deep frustration is understandable).
BJ · April 20, 2017 at 9:55 am
I have a question for you all. How much responsibility should doctors and the medical profession take on this subject? I don't mean illegal drugs, but pain killers, etc. When I had my wisdom teeth taken out eons ago, it was gauze and take an aspirin if you had to. Our youngest had it done several years ago and the oral surgeon sent her home with 4 prescriptions, 2 of those were for pain killers. Shouldn't the medical community be part of the solution, and asked to help D & A counselors in the system?
Elsa · April 19, 2017 at 4:43 pm
BJ...thanks for that info. I may check out the forum in Culpeper just to see Novants thoughts on the situation. Trust me, I've been around plenty of addicts who lie and manipulate and everything else under the sun. At first it did make me mad. Then I realized how strong the addiction was. I wasn't naive to their games. In fact I was probably the first one to call them on their crap. But that didn't make me love them or want to help them any less. And I have great sympathy for those around an addict who get caught in the crossfire. But writing a person off because they're an addict isn't going to fix it. My best friend has been clean for over 10 years now. We've been to hell and back several times. The one thing she always says to me is that I was her rock. No matter what I was there for her. Never naive but always there. I'm not trying to make myself out to be a great person but that's what you do when you love someone. I think that is incredibly important for an addict to recover. It's a long road and it might take a few times to get there. But even if you change only one life it's worth it. I'm glad you're willing to take a new look at it. I hope you can see the good a program like this could bring to the table.
Jim Griffin · April 19, 2017 at 4:07 pm
BJ: I have great respect for you and your remarks. Personal experience is important and it is easy to see how you could become jaded to the exercise in question. Indeed, some define insanity as doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Still, many -- including me -- feel the benefit of continuing the struggle. I suppose many a retired cancer doctor feels as do you, the futility, the loss. You have my understanding if not agreement.

NNT: How could you interpret "We the people of the United State, in Order to form a more perfect Union" and "insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare" as independence from the government? Certainly welfare is for some and not others, to those in need from those who are not. Some give their lives in battle, others are home and benefit. United we stand, divided we fall -- do you truly prefer division?
BJ · April 19, 2017 at 1:40 pm
Jim, I will take your counsel in advisement. There is a free mental health and addiction forum on May 9 from 5-8 PM at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas (another May 23 from 5-8 PM at Germanna's Daniel Technology Center in Culpeper) presented by Novant Health. Perhaps I need to look at this with new eyes because my old ones only saw the "bad" side of addiction and addicts.
nonewtaxes · April 19, 2017 at 12:19 pm
I have a different interpretation of all of that jG. I understand all of that to mean we are independent of the government, not government subjects but individuals. And while we may have agreed upon providing for the general welfare I recon that the general welfare means that something benefits us all like roads, police, ect.

"We did not form a United States to leave each other responsible for the choices made" What does this mean? I do believe we did sign up for individual responsibility. After all, you cant have individual rights without taking on the responsibility.

In CO you have the right to smoke dope. Thats great. But if you cant get a job because you cant pass a drug test dont come see me about food stamps. You made a choice, enjoy the rewards and take the responsibility for the failures also. I support you right to live the best life you possibly can. I also support your obligation to take responsibility for your life.

CConell: I feel responsible for these people because the government makes me responsible. They take money out of my paycheck to pay for those services in general.
Jim Griffin · April 19, 2017 at 11:34 am
BJ: It is our hope in supporting treatment to reduce the incidence of the very tragedies you cite. Great sympathy for all the victims on all sides of the equation of these tragic diseases.

Personal note: My relative, a doctor wary of addiction, followed post-knee-surgery directions with precision and found herself addicted to opioids. Fortunately, treatment without judgment was very available to her and she was back to normal in short order.
BJ · April 19, 2017 at 11:09 am
All this sympathy for the addict....what about the victims? The grandmother whose grandson took her checkbook and spent her social security to get high? The grandparents who are now raising their grandchildren because the parents are addicts? The people who have died because someone drove drunk, again? Where is the restitution and counseling for them? I am all for helping the other person unless that person feels we as a society are obligated to help them because of their "self-made" circumstances. I know what I know, some of you think you know. When I stopped feeling compassion and understanding, and started feeling disgust and disrespect, I know it was time to walk away.
Jim Griffin · April 19, 2017 at 10:22 am

We Americans came together in agreement that we would work together to care for one another:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America."

We did not form a United States to leave each other responsible for the choices made. We came together to work collectively for the common good and consecrated our desire with the constitution.

Quite aside from our collective government, we aggregate our beliefs in churches and other forms of social adhesion and calls to action for our general welfare.

We work together for good, not apart for ourselves. Yes, there are important lessons in self-reliance, but we built our society around collective welfare and defense. And when we do good for ourselves, we are expected to give back for just these reasons.
CConnell · April 19, 2017 at 7:44 am
Why are you feeling responsible?
Do you know what their home life was like? Do you live inside their brain to know what they are feeling?
nonewtaxes · April 19, 2017 at 7:35 am
I'm just asking a question.
Stick a needle in your arm, get pregnant at 15, drop out of school,
sit on the couch eating donuts > get addicted, get on the public teet, qualify only for minimum wage, become obese at age 25.

Are people not responsible for the choices they make? Why all we are responsible for the choices others make?
CConnell · April 19, 2017 at 7:31 am
BJ-I have sat and read your comments but now I feel the need to comment. If you knew anything about addiction you would know that it is a disease of the brain and all of the things you have listed, keeping promises, lies, manipulation, trading sex for drugs are all part of that disease. Addicts get hooked easily and they don't know how to stop the addictive behaviors and honestly a counseling session once a week is not going to help them at all, it is like teaching a child to ride a bike, not many get it on the first try, they have to have consistency in trying and that is the way it is with addiction there has to be consistency and accountability for actions. If there is no one to talk to when the addictive behavior sparks back up then the person has no one to turn to to help them to not turn right back to drugs because their brain is telling them that those drugs helped them through that rough patch the first time and it will help them again, so the brain has to be retrained that drugs are not the answer but talking about their feelings and putting the right people in their lives is the answer. I have seen this pattern day in and day out and this is why McShin is different than any rehab that I have witnessed and that is because we build a recovery community, where the addict is given the tools that they can use to be the person without the drugs and still be accepted.
BJ · April 19, 2017 at 7:14 am
Elsa - If you have any experience with addicts you will learn that they can and do lie, manipulate, make promises they can't keep, steal from family and friends, trade sex for drugs, deal drugs themselves, and will cry loads of tears trying to convince everyone how sorry they are, yet it only the addict themselves, not rehab or jail, that will make them stop their destructive behavior. I left counseling because I couldn't listen to the lies, or watch the crocodile tears, any longer. Why try to help people who weren't willing to help themselves, or go back to the same behavior over and over because that is easier then facing reality?
Elsa · April 18, 2017 at 9:51 pm
First I'd like to say I feel sorry for whoever BJ was "counseling". Just from the ignorance and attitude in 3 comments it's a safe bet those people went right back to drugs and alcohol. Though I must admit, I once had that same ignorant attitude. Was a firm believer that if you don't want to do something then just don't do it. Then God brought my best friend in my life. You will never truly understand addiction until you have to love someone through it. I'm assuming from the comments that BJ has never done drugs, which is great, I haven't either. However much like the article said, if you've never been there then you have no business counseling other people through it. BJ is right in the fact that it's a choice. The first time. I'm just blessed that my mistakes and bad choices didn't grab ahold of me and take over my life. Addiction is a disease. Plain and simple. There is plenty of evidence out there that proves that it is chemical imbalances in the brain (I literally just did a paper on this for one of my classes last week). Would you tell someone who had a mental disorder that they need to choose to be better? No...that's ridiculous. Much like addiction. I think this is an incredible program to begin. A good number of people in Fauquier ADC have no business being there. They need help to overcome this demon they are fighting and being thrown in jail isn't the answer. Excellent job Lt. Harris and Capt. Lavoie. This is long overdue. Glad to see Fauquier County is leaving the ignorance behind and looking to actually help fix the problem!
mlschlos · April 18, 2017 at 8:38 pm
Kay G I am with you!! Until you walk in their shoes you have no clue. When you have a family member or friend and you walk beside them and give them love, passion, guidance, strength and hope. BJ if you were a counselor you sure have a bad outlook on addicts. If you were knowledgeable about the addictions you would know its the drug/alcohol that makes them the person they become. These addicts come from all walks of life from the richest to the poorest. You have no clue what they have gone through in their lives and what they are foing through. There is only 1 judge and he is much more powerful than any of us. That is why we do not judge people but help them. I pray you never experience any addicts within your perfect world because you are in for a big surprise
BJ · April 18, 2017 at 6:53 pm
Kay G. - WOW is right. Until you have seen a newborn baby go through DT's because it's mother didn't care enough about it to get off the junk, or seen a little kid with a broken nose and broken out teeth because her father got drunk and went into a rage, you have nothing more to say about the subject.
dakota8314 · April 18, 2017 at 4:21 pm
It costs $29,000 to incarcerate someone for a year, they can get treatment for $13,000 per year. It makes sense to try to help the disease of addiction if for no other reason than financially because the cost is much broader when you consider what it does to families and the number of people affected. We know that just putting them in jail is not effective and the justice system is burdened because of this epidemic.
Kay G. · April 18, 2017 at 3:50 pm
All I can say, BJ, is WOW... Nothing more.
BJ · April 18, 2017 at 3:38 pm
Addiction is a choice, whatever that addiction may be, and addicts are self-indulging, selfish people. The only people I feel sorry for are their families and friends. Again, no one put that needle in their arm but them. Same goes for sex addiction, pornography addiction, alcohol abuse, whatever the addicts poison of CHOICE is, they are doing the harm to themselves voluntarily. I know of no perfect world, especially mine, but I do know that people were given a brain to think, and addicts only care about the next high, not who they are hurting even themselves. I was a drug/alcohol counselor in the military so my comments do not come from lack of knowledge, compassion, or understanding, just experience.
Kay G. · April 18, 2017 at 3:06 pm
Excellent comments from Jim Griffin and mlschlos. And BJ's are distressing to read -- the total lack of knowledge, understanding and compassion, and I guess perhaps that mlschlos must be correct -- that BJ and everyone he knows leads a perfect life. I may never have suffered from addiction of any kind, but I do know of others... friends and family who have, from alcohol, to drugs. There are all sorts of reasons why it happens and why it remains a life-long struggle to keep addictions at bay. Bravo to those responsible for initiating this program in our County.
mlschlos · April 18, 2017 at 2:15 pm
I am so happy to hear a program is coming to Fauquier County!! This is truly needed. If anyone wants to post negative remarks about the Heroin addicts that really shows your level of knowledge and education. No one ask to be an addict, it happens. Do not judge because truly you never know when one of your family members or friends may need the help. Trust me they can be an addict and you not know it. So do not show your lack of knowledge & education on the matter. So glad BJ you live in a perfect world. I am so proud that Fauquier County has this program coming into our county!!
Jim Griffin · April 18, 2017 at 2:11 pm

From the article: "McShin will set up the program at no charge. The jail will use canteen funds — from the sale of toiletries and snacks — to purchase DVDs, books and other materials for the recovery program."

Agreed addicts should not start -- most of them will agree with that, too -- but addiction brings the end of choice.

Addiction leads to jail (if the addict is lucky), making jail a good place to start treatment, reducing the burden and costs addicts place upon the community.

Surely arrival at the jail represents the beginning of detox for addicts at the hands of the sheriff. Smart decision by Mosier to acquire free professional care for our professionally-run jail.

Good move, Bob.
BJ · April 18, 2017 at 12:51 pm
And who is paying for these drug addicts to get help? If you are stupid enough to stick a needle in your arm, you are too stupid for me to care if you die. No one held a gun to your head. Absolutely zero sympathy!
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