Proposed program aims to curb addiction

Local News

 DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — The Danville City Council heard a new idea to address drug addiction Tuesday.

The SMART Program would remove people from their hometowns for a year during their recovery to focus on physical and mental fitness.

People who’ve lost loved ones to addiction think this program could work.

Jenny Merrell’s son, Aaron, died two years ago after serving in the military. She says he had a hard time returning to civilian life.

“Aaron was somebody that had the biggest heart. He would do anything for anybody. He would give his last dollar for someone else even if that meant he went without something.”

When Aaron returned from the Marines, she said Aaron suffered from PTSD, and drugs were his way out. He struggled with addiction until he overdosed. But Merrell thought things could have been different for her son.

Merrell said Aaron wrote in his journal about wanting to be clean, but couldn’t get away from his past. He talked about his triggers all the time.

“Everywhere he went there was a trigger. He couldn’t go to Walmart without seeing something that reminded him of using.”

“I think something like this program would have helped Aaron. I think if he would have been in a completely different environment, that he would have excelled because he wanted to,” Merrrell said.

Although it’s too late for Aaron, Merrell thinks a program like this could help other people.

“I think that if you are provided with an opportunity to be in a different environment, you wouldn’t be faced with those day-to-day triggers and those things that could make you want to use.”

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said he likes what he’s heard so far, and he’s reviewing the proposal. There will be a meeting at the library to discuss the proposal Thursday, at 6 pm. 

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