Former heroin user to addicts: 'If I can do it, anybody can' - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Former heroin user to addicts: 'If I can do it, anybody can'

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
  • Also on WMCTV.COMMore>>

  • Heroin overdose deaths triple from 2015 to 2016

    Heroin overdose deaths triple from 2015 to 2016

    Thursday, October 6 2016 3:22 PM EDT2016-10-06 19:22:42 GMT
    A video circulating on Facebook shows two people unconscious on a Memphis sidewalk. Witnesses said this is the result of a drug overdose. (Source: Facebook)A video circulating on Facebook shows two people unconscious on a Memphis sidewalk. Witnesses said this is the result of a drug overdose. (Source: Facebook)

    Heroin overdose deaths have nearly tripled in Memphis in 2016. 

    More >>

    Heroin overdose deaths have nearly tripled in Memphis in 2016. 

    More >>
  • Witness: 2 found unconscious from drug overdose on Memphis sidewalk

    Witnesses record video of 2 people unconscious on Memphis sidewalk

    Tuesday, October 4 2016 6:47 PM EDT2016-10-04 22:47:34 GMT
    A video circulating on Facebook shows two people unconscious on a Memphis sidewalk. Witnesses said this is the result of a drug overdose. (Source: Facebook)A video circulating on Facebook shows two people unconscious on a Memphis sidewalk. Witnesses said this is the result of a drug overdose. (Source: Facebook)

    Two people were found unconscious, from what witnesses called a drug overdose, on a Memphis sidewalk on Monday afternoon. 

    More >>

    Two people were found unconscious, from what witnesses called a drug overdose, on a Memphis sidewalk on Monday afternoon. 

    More >>
  • Heroin epidemic plagues Memphis

    Heroin epidemic plagues Memphis

    Friday, September 9 2016 6:58 PM EDT2016-09-09 22:58:08 GMT
    (Source: East Liverpool Police)(Source: East Liverpool Police)

    The nation is getting a close-up look today of a dangerous epidemic. Disturbing images of a drug overdose went viral Friday. They show a couple passed out in a car with their 4-year-old child in the back seat.

    More >>

    The nation is getting a close-up look today of a dangerous epidemic. Disturbing images of a drug overdose went viral Friday. They show a couple passed out in a car with their 4-year-old child in the back seat.

    More >>
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

It's a problem that's getting so big the Memphis Police Department Organized Crime Unit is investigating it specifically - the heroin epidemic.

Since 2013 Memphis police said more than 230 people have died due to heroin overdoses and several hundred more were arrested because of the drug.

But for one former user, she said her arrest is what saved her life.

Jessica Milligan has been sober for the past nine months after she was arrested last year with heroin in her possession.

"I was arrested on my 30th birthday in July of 2016," Milligan said. "And I detoxed in jail. I got out and I was waiting to go to court."

She said her addiction was deeper than a desire to get high. It started after her father committed suicide.

"He was a self-made millionaire and he owned a restaurant in Mississippi and when he killed himself that was the end of it for me and I didn't care anymore," she said. "And that's when I started using needles and actual heroine- not just Lortabs."

Milligan said she went to rehab three times but it didn't work. It was jail time and orders from drug court that made the difference.

"I owe it to drug court really and Karat Place. They gave me the structure and the discipline and the accountability and stuff," she said.

The heroin arrests for Memphis Police Department have steadily climbed:

  • In 2013- 230 people arrested
  • In 2014- 257 people arrested
  • In 2015- 520 people arrested
  • In 2016- 581 people arrested

By May 10 of 2017, there were 160 behind bars because of heroin.

In addition to the number of arrests increasing, the number of deaths has more than doubled:

  • In 2013- 24 people died from a heroin overdose
  • In 2014- 33 people died from a heroin overdose
  • In 2015- 27 died from an overdose
  • In 2016- 101 died from an overdose

A total of 49 people have died from an overdose since the start of this year.

Milligan hopes her story sends a message to other people still struggling with addictions.

"I was the worst of the worst. Everybody who knows me will tell you that and I've survived it and I'm very proud of that," she said. "And if I can do it, anybody can."

The heroin epidemic is so powerful in Memphis that TIME Magazine has reached to MPD for a story on it.

Police confirmed the article will not be released until later this year.

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly