JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – While the opioid epidemic in Mississippi continues to grow, there are those working to fight back.
“I took opioids, painkillers, prescriptions, basically anything that could get me out of myself,” says Joshua Horton, he started using drugs at just 13. “We’ve got a lot of alcohol and addiction in my family.”
Horton was behind bars when he finally hit rock bottom.
“I was sitting in a jail cell in Atlanta, Georgia with 57 felonies or somewhere around there,” says Horton.
He adds that he was still intoxicated while he stood before the judge, but he got a break.
“I went to my first appearance, and she looked at me, and she told me she saw something in me and she threw out all the charges.”
All of his felonies were gone. That’s when Joshua decided to start over in Itawamba County, Mississippi.
While he didn’t go to a rehab facility, he immersed himself in the recovery community.
“I had some good men that loved me until I could learn how to love myself,” adds Horton.
He later enrolled at Itawamba Community College.
“There I learned that I could do school. From Itawamba Community College I earned a full scholarship at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.”
Joshua graduated from honor college Magna Cum Laude and will soon graduate from Ole Miss Law School.
“The worst sound in the world is that door slamming behind you,” say Johnny Overby.
Like Joshua, he started using drugs at just 13 years old.
“It led me to a decision of choosing crystal as my drug of choice, to choosing crack as my drug of choice,” says Overby.
Decades of drug use and at least three or four times in jail, it was when he landed in the Rankin County Detention Center the second time, things changed.
“I had lost everything from my home to my wife. I felt like I lost my complete life, my family, everything,” says the 43-year-old. “You’re in that cell, and there’s nobody, but you and that’s when you have to come to terms with yourself.”
Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey does things a little differently in his jail; he allows churches to mentor to inmates.
“This past time during my incarceration was very different from my first time. This time what was different is there was God in the jail,” says Overby.
The longtime drug user says he’d tried everything to get sober.
“I’ve been to rehabs where they’re not so nice. I’ve been to rehabs where I had a queen size bed and a TV to watch and a pool table to shoot pool on and a sauna. I’ve been to the best rehabs, and I’ve been to the worst ones, but the different is, your options are gone,” explains Overby.
While in jail, Johnny had no choice but to detox. Soon, he became a trustee in Sheriff Bailey’s program.
“From Celebrate Recovery programs to preachers coming in, to if you do well enough you make a blue suit, you actually go out to church, it changed my life,” says Overby.
Those trustees cannot be sex offenders or have committed violent crimes. They get a chance to go to church, and it’s all part of the process of one day introducing them back into society.
“There are several that need the help, they just need the tools; especially when they step out of a jail and step back into society,” says Sheriff Bailey.
Johnny is now an employee for the sheriff. He works as a mechanic and calls himself one of the lucky ones.
“I was one of the lucky ones to be chosen to be a trustee here to where God was really incorporated into this jail,” adds Overby.