COBB COUNTY, Ga. - Addicts, law enforcement, advocates and others came together for 'From Arrest to Recovery', a symposium to combat the County's heroin epidemic.
They gathered on the same day a three year lease was signed for a new heroin recovery center named The Zone.
It's a 21,000 square-foot facility, home of the former Senior Services of Cobb County, which moved elsewhere, leaving the building to be re-purposed and re-named. 'The Zone' will have a coffee shop, computer labs, gymnasium and even a chill room, all to help people battling heroin and opioid addiction.
"No drugs will be given out here; no beds will be given out here. And we're just going to lead with love and keep people in recovery," said Missy Owen, the founder of the nonprofit Davis Direction Foundation.
She established the nonprofit after her son Davis, a class president of his senior class in high school, died of a heroin overdose. She also arranged the symposium which was held at Marietta First United Methodist Church.
Participants heard from members of advocacy groups, the Marietta Police Department, Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds and Vincent Hester with the MCS Task Force Narcotics Unit.
"One thing we've seen with heroin that we've never seen before in the crack epidemic in the 90's is the amount of addict deaths," Vincent Hester told the crowd.
At the symposium participants learned about 120 people died in the last two years in Cobb County from heroin overdoses and that about sixty percent of felony court cases here are drug related.
"You can't arrest your way out of a heroin epidemic and so what we've got to do is be able to discern between a heroin addict and somebody who may be trafficking or distributing," said Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds.
Michelle Youghn, who identified herself as an addict, said she and others who will benefit tremendously from frank, open discussions at the symposium and the new facility.
"I think it's going to have a bigger impact on our community than we can even really at this point, so it's really exciting," said Michelle Youghn.
No one is more excited about the Zone than Missy Owen, who received the keys to the new building from County Chairman Tim Lee at the symposium after signing a three year lease earlier.
"We need to help people in recovery stay in recovery and that's what The Zone is going to be," said Owen.
She said The Zone will be paid for with donations and grants and will involve no tax payer dollars.
Owen said volunteers will start setting up furniture and other amenities at The Zone soon with a Grand Opening Planned for some time in September.