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Health officials: New tool in fight against drugs is working in Portsmouth, OH

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PORTSMOUTH, Oh. -

Chris Webb, of Scioto County, met with 13 News, along with his mother and health professionals from the Portsmouth Health Department to speak frankly about his struggle with drugs and his recovery.

"Where Portsmouth McDonalds is, all the way to Wheelersburg, I sped over 100 miles and hour, trying to get pulled over, and I had an AR 15 with me, and a pistol in my lap. I was gonna shoot it out with the cops," says Webb as he recalls the day he decided to get sober. "I came back into town, picked up my girlfriend, did more dope, went to my mom's house and told her I need help. Something's gotta give."

"I've never seen him that bad," says his mother, Regina Webb.

Now a recovering addict, Webb says he had tried to tell his family about his addiction to pills and heroin.

"He just said, 'I'm doing stuff I know better than to do,' and he was 21 or 22 by that time," says Regina Webb. "That should have been my first sign."

Now, 27, and expecting a child soon, Chris Webb goes to the Portsmouth Health Department for monthly Vivitrol injections.

He has been clean since August, and says his cravings are completely gone.

Vivitrol blocks opiates, so heroin and many painkillers have no effect and cravings are reduced, or in Webb's case, erased.

About 125 people in the Portsmouth area have gotten the shot since it was introduced here more than a year ago.

"Some of them stay on it for three or four months, and feel like they can go on to the oral form (naltrexone) of the medication," says nurse, Lisa Roberts of the Portsmouth Health Department. "Others stay on it for a year, or longer, so each patient is individually assessed."

Webb couples this with counseling and lifestyle changes.

It is a decision, not a miracle.

"A drug addict is a walking zombie," says Webb. "Because you're already dead, until you decide to give yourself life again." And you have to make it through detox for it to work. "If you can get the opiates out of your system, vivitrol doesn't have a downside to it," says Dr. Randy Schlegel, who works with the Scioto County Health Coalition and is part of Webb's team of supporters.
 
The listed side-effects haven't bothered Webb.

Now, he even speaks to classes about the dangers of drugs so they don't struggle the way he has, or die, the way many of his friends and family have.

"I've been to 26 funerals since 2004," says Webb.

"They make the best soldiers, because they've been there and done that, and lived it, and they know a lot," says Roberts. "He was a drug dealer. He was a drug user. He was a criminal. He actually just admitted that he tried to get arrested so that he could kill a cop, you know. But look what we've done with him now. Chris is part of the solution now. That's one of the things we really make an effort to do here, is get these people who were previously part of the problem, and have them come over to our side and be part of the solution."

Webb says sharing with others is part of his treatment.

"I help kids stay interacted in sports, help them stay in school," says Webb. "I'm thankful that my little cousins have stayed in school, and that they're all smart. They might not be the smartest kids to some people, but they're smart to me, because they're making the right choices.