HCSO offers rehab instead of jail for struggling addicts

You are more likely to die from an opioid overdose than from a car crash. The epidemic of addiction is not slowing down. Now, people in Hillsborough County have a new way pathway to get clean.

Enforcement of the law is still number one in Hillsborough County. However, Sheriff Chad Chronister knows sometimes not locking someone up is a better way to fight crime.

"You have to get to the root of the problem, you have to fix the problem," he said.

Because addiction is a huge problem, the department launched a drug amnesty program Wednesday.  The agency wants you to bring your illegal drugs to any of the district stations, promising not to charge you with possession. HCSO will also link up addicts who want to get clean with rehab facilities.

"The most difficult part in all of this is someone deciding, hey it’s time to get help, it's time to change my life,” said Chronister. “We’ll take it from there. We will be the ones to help facilitate your entry into one of these programs or one of these facilities."

Deputies will even drive you to the treatment center if you need a ride. 

"My drugs of choice were meth, Adderall, and I also had an eating disorder as well," shared Jon Jasper.

He was 21 years old when he got sober and now gives back as a licensed mental health counselor at Turning Point of Tampa.

Jasper applauds the sheriff’s office for this new program.

"I think any opportunity someone has to get treatment is a good thing for the community. Only 2% of addicts who need treatment in the United States get the opportunity to go to treatment," he said.

He says addicts often lack the money, knowledge, or resources to get clean, even if they want to. So eliminating those barriers is a refreshing change.

"Anything we can do to encourage addicts to reach out for help and who have a willingness to change their lives and do something different, I think reinforcing that is a great opportunity for us," said Jasper.

"If we can change the course of one individual’s life, save the life, change that life, this is a successful program," Chronister said.

This program is voluntary and meant to get someone help before they get busted for drugs. There are already multiple programs in place in the county to help folks get clean after they are arrested.

If you are seeking addiction treatment and/or want to dispose of controlled substances, please come to any of these HCSO locations:

-Sheriff's Operations Center - 2008 E. 8th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605
-District I - 14102 N 20th Street, Tampa, FL 33613
-District II - 2301 N. Falkenburg Rd., Tampa, FL 33619
-District III - 7202 Gunn Highway, Tampa, FL 33625
-District IV - 508 33rd Street SE, Ruskin, FL 33570
-District V - 10128 Windhorst Rd., Tampa, FL 33619