New heroin addiction recovery program begins in Albany County

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Albany County is taking a strong stand against a drug epidemic with a new program.

The program is called the Sheriff’s Heroin Addiction Recovery Program, or S.H.A.R.P. It began on Friday at the Albany County Correctional Facility and already has the maximum number of inmates signed up.

The goal of S.H.A.R.P. is to help inmates in the county correctional facility recover from addiction.

There are several steps to the program. The inmates in S.H.A.R.P all live together in wing 7 east. They’ll receive group and one-on-one counseling sessions, plus peer counseling.

Joshua Molenaar is a recovering addict taking part in the S.H.A.R.P. program at Albany County Correctional Facility. (NEWS10)
Joshua Molenaar is a recovering addict taking part in the S.H.A.R.P. program at Albany County Correctional Facility. (NEWS10)

When they’re released they’ll be taken to a community recovery program. One man said it’s already working.

Joshua Molenaar said he started using heroin about 10 years ago.

“It slowly graduated from sniffing to a needle,” he said.

Currently, he’s facing Grand Larceny and Weapon Possession charges.

“I stole firearms to support my drug habit,” he said.

It’s not his first time at the correctional facility.

“I was here in August,” he said. “I was in Schenectady County last February, and I was back in here in May.”

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said addicts have a very high recidivism rate, which is why the S.H.A.R.P. program is so important.

“These people need a place to go when they get out of here,” the sheriff said. “Otherwise, they’re coming back.”

Inmates in S.H.A.R.P. volunteer to be in the program. When they’re released, they receive an injection of Vivitol, a medication meant to curb addiction, and are sent to a community recovery program.

“What it does is number one, it reduces the craving for either alcohol or opiates,” Keith Stark with Additions Care Center of Albany said. “And if someone is not craving the drug then they’re focused on the therapy.”

Molenaar said he’s excited about the chance to finally stay clean.

“I get clean, and I say I’m going to do this and this and this,” he explained. “And then something little will happen, and it will all fall apart. I feel healthier than I’ve felt in 10 years since I started using.”

His goal right now is to complete the S.H.A.R.P. program and get out on probation by his sentencing date in November. Then, he wants to get a college degree.

“At the same time, I’m going to try to live for today and stay clean for today,” he said.

Molenaar said less than 24 hours into the program and others in the group are already sharing what he called “horror stories” of addiction.

“I went through withdrawal for about two weeks,” he said. “When I was picked up by the police, I was sick already.”

But he’s also looking forward to what comes next.

“Hopefully, in the future, I can help other kids not have to go through what I’ve been through,” he said.

Molenaar said he hopes to become a counselor to help recovering addicts like himself.

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