ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – In this second part of News 8’s inside look at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Heroin Task Force, we’re taking a deeper dive into understanding the disease of addiction and the challenges of recovery.
Isabel Garcia shares the story of a woman actively in treatment right now, as well as how officials are working to change the stigma of getting help. Cory Nuijens is bravely sharing her story as she navigates her journey in recovery at Delphi Rise — a 24/7 open access support and treatment site. Treatment programs like that are also now being incorporated into our jail systems, with a goal of finding the most effective way to help those battling the disease.
“I’ve been struggling since I was 12 years old. I’ve been in and out of treatments for a very long time.”
Cory Nuijens describes her childhood as challenging, with an abusive father, and mother who worked three jobs. While when she was much younger, she vowed to never drink due to these matters. It still happened but the hard drugs came later. It was around the age of sixteen Cory recalls her brother and then-boyfriend abusing the narcotic prescription drug OxyContin, something she was vehemently against.
“And then, of course peer pressure; I’m like what am I missing so, I took it and I instantly felt gratification. Everything went away and it just took me on this spin, and it was the love of my life for a very long time. And after they had changed the formula on the Oxys then that’s when I got into Heroin,” she explains.
Her battle with addiction and drugs would continue. Most recently after Cory’s fiance passed away while they were living unhoused last summer, she sought support. She’s currently getting treatment at Delphi Rise 24/7 access center, which has group counseling, therapy, medication management and more. While that route is working for her, bringing these types of programs to people while in jail may be another solution.
“Really the jail — it’s interesting — has become one of the safest places for people to be,” says Sgt. Joel Yager.
In November, Sgt. Yager was brought on as the Director of the Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Program at the Monroe County jail. Incorporating his more than four decades in the field, the Medically Assisted Therapy program takes about 50 inmates at a time.
“They would get an assessment, we would decide what their current needs are, what were their patterns before. They would be assigned a drug and alcohol counselor who they see every day and they regroup every day,” he says.
Sheriff Todd Baxter weighs in.
“For the other side of the community, these are just people that are addictive and committing crime…Yea, if we let them out and don’t treat them, they’re going to commit more crimes — it’s going to be your car tomorrow. The box store down in Henrietta that may have thousands and thousands of dollars stolen — and we all pay for that as a community,” Sheriff Todd Baxter says.
Now with the increase of the highly potent synthetic opioid of fentanyl being used in everything, the push for greater awareness within the community, aiming to also help in the prevention.
“I think it’s very important to talk to kids early nowadays — it’s not Russian roulette anymore. It’s if you take this drug, you’re gonna die because everything is laced with fentanyl nowadays. It’s just very, very lethal. It’s not like it used to be. You really don’t know what you are going to get — even to the pressed pills they’re doing,” Cory says.
For her, the support and treatment she’s received in her 9+ months at Delphi Rise/Open Access are helping her find solace and forgiveness.
“It definitely taught me a lot about myself — that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. That I don’t have to be that shy little girl. That I can help other people and I can love myself today even though it was a rough road.”
Community resources for those both battling addiction and for support for those impacted by the disease can be found here:
Delphi Rise/Open Access: https://www.delphirise.org/
RELATED COVERAGE: Special Report: Monroe County Heroin Task Force
Click here to read part one of News 8’s special report.