LODI, OH (WOIO) - A Medina County police department has a new plan to help fight Ohio's growing heroin epidemic, offering treatment instead of jail time.
Since September, Nicole Walmsley has been to more than 40 police stations to voluntarily tell police that she's recovering.
"I was a heroin addict for more than seven years," she said.
Walmsley says ever since she surrendered to Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative, her life has turned around.
"I was ready to let go. I had overdosed the night before. I was done. This was in 2013," she said.
Based in Massachusetts, the program helps people who want to overcome their addiction by walking into a police station and asking for help.
Walmsley wants to bring that program closer to home, making it the first in Ohio. She's been working with the Lodi Police Department to make it a reality.
"The addicted person can make contact, come into the police department with any of my officers, and basically say, 'I need help.' At that point, it starts the ball rolling. We'll take the paraphernalia. They won't be charged with that," explained Police Chief Keith Keough.
Keough says the number of addicts have increased in the village of Lodi and they want to help.
The money won't come from taxpayers, but from fundraising instead.
"I'm hopeful that once we explain the word to other agencies, that they'll be as excited about it as I am," Keough said.
As for Walmsley, she's been hosting "Walks against Heroin" all over the Buckeye State, where hundreds of people have participated, including law enforcement.
She says now that she's drug free, her goal is to help others be the same.
"We change. We do recover. And my goal is to help get others to where I'm at today," Walmsley said.
Lodi Police hope to get the program running by January.