Love begins at home.
That's the message that Bobby Cooper with the Addiction at Home Heroin Crisis Coalition intervention team wants to send out.
Sometimes, it's tough love that's needed, and it often takes family members and professionals familiar with addiction and addicts to be able to share what they have learned to save lives and save families.
Cooper has walked the walk and earned the right to talk the talk
His 24-year-old daughter, Jessica, lost her battle with addiction. Her lifeless body was discovered behind a warehouse.
"She was a sweet soul," Bobby Cooper said. "She was my first child."
His other child, Branden, has beat his addiction and now helps others battle their addiction.
"I've lived with both sides," said Bobby Cooper. "I am living every person's nightmare and every person's dream. I feel like I have a unique opportunity to be able to help families."
Cooper and a core group of parents of the addicted along with professional counselors and a registered nurse have formed an intervention team that stands to ready to assist families who have nowhere else to turn — and their services are free.
Stacy Dodd, who wears several hats in the community, including that of the executive director of the Hope Center in Horn Lake and who serves on the staff at Turning Point Recovery in Southaven, is joining forces with Cooper in this latest personal endeavor.
"This is where the Holy Spirit and the power of the Lord comes in," Dodd said.
Both men stress this latest initiative is a private, collaborative effort aimed at saving individuals from the real possibility of overdose and death.
"Stacy and I came up with this idea," said Cooper in a conference call on Thursday. "We got together to ask each other what we could do to help the addicts while they are in the home."
Even after going through successful treatment programs that last for, on average, 30 days, addicts often go right back to the home setting and need tools to cope.
"I have a unique opportunity because I can tell both sides if the story of addiction," Cooper said. "I know the nightmare of losing a daughter and I also know the promise of seeing my son sober and working to help other people."
Cooper said families are often confused and need guidance in dealing with the addicted.
"Families need help and don't know where to turn," Cooper said. "You have a child who is struggling. We will work you through it. What we want to do is back up the train. They are on a crash course. When families begin to understand their loved ones are troubled by opiates or heroin, they can become empowered in learning how to deal with it."
Even after addicts have been through detoxification and discharged from facilities or even if families have no insurance and can't afford future treatment, they still need help.
"What we're going to do is an intervention with the family," Cooper said. "I wish that I had somebody help me when eight years ago I was sitting in an ICU and I didn't know whether or not my daughter was going to live or not."
Cooper said firefighters were able to revive his daughter and get her to a hospital.
"This is a free service," Cooper said, adding that Addiction At Home Heroin Crisis Coalition is working on receiving nonprofit status. "We're about saving lives through personal engagement. Many times, families are caught up and have no idea what to do. I had a family member tell me they felt imprisoned in their own home."
Cooper said the network and intervention team will not only teach coping mechanisms but offer solutions.
"We are compiling data and not just state and national data," Cooper said. "We need to know what's going on in our community. This is a crisis group that says I got your back and we'll help you through this. After they go to their meetings and meet all the 12 steps, they want to know what their next step will be."
Cooper said the medical evidence shows that it can take up to a year for heroin and its effects to work its way out of a patient's system.
Right now, the crisis group meets at the Southaven library and Cooper said Addiction At Home is looking for a larger facility.
"What we really want to do is to be able to set up a treatment plan," Cooper said. "For us, in the end, it's about being able to help families."
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Robert Lee Long is Community Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.