Northern Kentucky residents call it an epidemic. Heroin is taking over the lives of teenagers, husbands, wives, and parents from all walks of life.
Patty Smith is your average mother.
She's raised three children in the suburbs of Cincinnati and would do anything for her children. Now she is in a battle she never expected to fight. The fight to save her daughter's life.
"I'm the mother of a heroin addict," Smith said.
Like many parents, Smith did not want to believe her daughter had a problem.
After her suspicions were confirmed with a positive home drug test, the Smith family started the long journey of trying to save an addict.
"I am stronger than any heroin addict or drug out there," Smith declared.
Smith went through the court system and had Casey's Law enacted for her 24-year-old daughter Stacey. This gave Smith the right to intervene for treatment due to Stacey's impairment.
It also gives her the right to put her daughter behind bars.
"That is not my daughter sitting in Kenton County Jail right now," she explained.
Twice now, Smith has had her own child arrested to ensure that she would live to see another day.
"I slept Thursday night and Friday night and last night straight through because I don't worry about where she is," she explained. "She's in jail and the worst thing that could happen in jail is not the worst thing that could happen in the streets."
Dr. Jeremy Engel calls the heroin issue in Northern Kentucky "an epidemic that does not discriminate." He said it's a highly addictive drug that has high impact consequences.
"There are parents in here who have had children who said, ‘He's 25. He was the valedictorian. He was an athlete,'" Dr. Engel said.
While the Smith family figures out what's next for their daughter, Patty is actively involved in an advocacy group that meets in Northern Kentucky. At each meeting attendance continues to grow, and the community is finding a way to combat the growing problem.
At the same time, Smith is coming to terms with the few options that her daughter has.
"She's either going to live through this and get through it, or she's going to die," Smith said. "And I've come to that. I've left it up to the Lord. I've done everything I can do. There's nothing that anybody could say that I didn't do to save her life."
Smith's daughter remains in the Kenton County Jail, but will soon be transferred to a treatment facility.
The advocacy group Smith and Dr. Engel are active in is called 'People Advocating for Recovery'.
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