Amid Louisville’s heroin battle,Volunteers Of America expands treatment programs

By Lisa Gillespie

Volunteers of America is expanding its addiction treatment programs in Louisville.

Freedom House, a residential treatment program for mothers and pregnant women, will get more space at the former Planned Parenthood on Second Street. The program will also provide family and group therapy, case management and psychiatric care.

VOA is also set to open a second facility next month at 4303 West Broadway, which will provide transitional living for women with drug addiction issues.

Tiana Brigs came to Freedom House two months ago after a three-year battle with prescription opioid addiction. She had her sixth child four days ago. At the groundbreaking Thursday morning, Brigs said it meant a lot to her that there will be more places to go for people with addiction.

"I would go to the hospital and lie, and say I was in pain just to get pain medicine," Brigs said. "They usually give it to you after you have kids; that's how I started using. I used to buy it on the streets after that."

Brigs is from Louisville and many of her friends have battled drug addiction.

"There are so many people out here dying, and it could be me. Don't nobody want to see anybody go down like that for drugs," she said. "And just having nowhere to go, it's pretty painful. But to open another Freedom House, in the West End, where it's all going down at, it's a blessing."

VOA is also expanding an existing facility at 2500 East Broadway to include intensive outpatient treatment and aftercare services.

Yvette Gentry, chief of community building with the mayor's office, said addressing addiction as a public health crisis is the only way the city will make progress. Gentry said children who had parents in the 90s who were addicted to crack cocaine are now filling juvenile detention centers.

Residents, city leaders and members of the community gathered for VOA's groundbreaking.

Andrew Davidson, a social worker and director of clinical services for VOA Midstates, agreed. He said children of parents who have addiction are more likely to also have addiction issues.

"We know that addiction is multigenerational, it's passed on — it's just like any other illness," Davidson said. "Now it's more to the forefront because people are dying from this disease. That's why it's so important when we're doing addiction treatment we treat the whole family, we don't just treat the addict."