BOSTON (CBS) – Efforts to tackle the state’s drug addiction epidemic are being made on several fronts.
“No one will tell you when they offer you a prescription painkiller that it can so easily turn into a needle in your arm in six months or less. No one will tell you that,” said Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis.
But Evangelidis says he hears that story every single day and can recite it in 15 seconds which he does during his face to face outreach program at Worcester County Public Schools.
Evangelidis says, “Nobody believes me and then I say to them: ‘I was in the middle of high school, started doing drugs, got addicted so my family kicked me out because I was stealing from them. So I went to my friend’s house, stealing from my friends so he kicked me out. So I went down the street, robbed my neighbor, got arrested and went to prison.’”
Tommy Lee Goddard is 26, doing 18 months for restaurant B and E’s to support his drug habit. Sober now, he says the demons linger. “Something that’s always there like I dream about it and I wake up and I’m like “oh God.” Honestly, I don’t want to do it. It’s just something that follows me,” Goddard says.
Worcester County’s community service program is helping him transition to a drug free life. On a recent rainy afternoon, he was blazing a new trail for the Mass Audubon’s Broad Meadow Brook Sanctuary.
And even sopping wet. Tommy Lee was very upbeat.
“I love this program,” Goddard says. “It gives me time to think about what I’ve done. It gives me improvement on my skill set. It gives me time to pay back to the community for everything I took from them.”
Sheriff Evangelidis calls the community service program a win-win.
“Every time you visit a site like you just did you, you see incredible work being done, such appreciation from the community and then you see at the same time the inmates benefit—never seen a program that saves millions of dollars and turns people’s lives around,” Evangelidis says.