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As the Drug Epidemic sweeps the nation, organizations, law makers, institutions, recovered addicts, mourning moms and many others are trying everything they can to help. To help combat the growing number of inmates addicted to drugs and alcohol, a jail in Manatee County is helping with their new Drug Rehab Program. The Recovery Pod program serves roughly 30 men and 20 women in a residential drug program. Currently fifty-one inmates are now housed at the newly created Alcohol and Drug Recovery Pod at the Manatee County jail, where the daily activates includes a faith-based ministry, an intense schedule of recovery meetings and classes in life skills, anger management, employment training and parenting. Inmates say they have new hope for a drug free life. Two separate inmates spoke about their experience with  the drug epidemic and what the recovery pod program has done for them.  “It’s intense, it’s hands on. You’re learning one on one. There’s respect a family unity here, no fights, not stealing here been nothing,” says Kenneth Stillson, 30. Since he was 18 years old Stillson has been addicted to drugs and using crack cocaine. He has been arrested 39 times and has been stuck in the cycle of drug addiction and incarceration. The Recovery Pod program he says has changed him. “I’ve learned the tools I need to make it out in the world. I know I’m a drug addict. I’ve learned to love myself need to learn how to love others and love God,” says Stillson. The second inmate Darryl Morgan has been arrested dozens of times and has been in and out of the prison for the past 30 years. For that long he has struggled with an addiction to cocaine, racking up possession and dealing charges along the way. Last week, Morgan, 52, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his most recent conviction: selling cocaine. Now, thanks to a new recovery program created by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at its jail, Morgan finally has hope. “After sentencing I had the opportunity to stay in the recovery pod because I thought it was best, no matter the journey, because I still want to get everything out of it,” Morgan said. “The bad part on my behalf … it’s 10 years too late. When you get a certain age, society gets to the point where they kind of throw you to the dogs.” Despite thinking society and the system look at him as being at an age where “recovery isn’t going to do him any good,” he knows he has another chance and that he will get out of prison. “If a person doesn’t make it with all that is given to us, they simply choose not to,” Morgan said. “Through the bad choices, it hasn’t stopped my coming in and out,” Morgan said. “If this was here right, nine years ago, I would go on the line and say that my life would be different.” Looking towards the remaining years on his sentence, he hopes to act as a mentor to others.Sign_Recovery_next_exit

“Fellowship, I have learned, is one of the most important things in recovery,” Morgan said. “I am going to take this to the other gates and when I get prepared to leave that system, I am going to already have it in sketched in me.”

The program was made possible thanks to a partnership with the Salvation Army. Every day more than 100 volunteers work with those housed in the recovery pod.

Inmates have to volunteer to participate in the program.

Once they are in, everything is mandatory. They can’t opt out of a meeting. They can’t choose not to go to a class. A hundred percent participation is expected of them.

The goal of the program is for inmates to participate for 30 to 90 days. Currently, the first group in the pod has been there for about 60 days.

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