SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Kathy McDermott of Biloxi has a son, who like many others, made the transition from prescription pain killers to heroin.
"Every day I wake up and pray my son is still alive," said McDermott. "When I realize he's alive, I thank God he's still alive."
As a result of her son's addiction, Kathy had to take extreme measures to protect herself.
"I had to write on the back of anything of value 'Do not pawn' where the serial numbers are so that he couldn't take my things anymore," said McDermott.
When her son wanted to stop using, it wasn't an easy fix.
"He was asking for help, but I couldn't find it," said McDermott. "I couldn't find help anywhere."
Because he didn't have a job, her son didn't have insurance; making it difficult to receive treatment.
"When you don't have insurance they won't even make an appointment with you," said McDermott.
When not treated properly, heroin addicts can suffer extreme withdrawals - which can in turn lead to a relapse. According to Crossroads Recovery Center Director Lisa Crain, withdrawal symptoms are comparable to the worst case of flu you can imagine.
"When they start hitting the withdrawal stage they're more likely to go out and use again because it's so uncomfortable," said Crain. "They don't want to experience it."
An added complication for Kathy's son was finding a detox center, a place where the pain of withdrawals can be medically eased. The cheapest detox center she could find wanted $10,000 for treatment; money Kathy didn't have.
"If they don't have a facility to go to detox then they're kind of in a catch 22. Detoxing can be fatal, it can kill people," said McDermott.
Desperate for a solution Kathy, found a police supported program in Massachusetts called the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative. The program helps addicts find detox centers free of charge.
"He told me just get him here," said McDermott.
Kathy made the 20-hour drive and dropped off her son, who stayed in Massachusetts for a week. Upon returning to the Coast, he was able to check into the Crossroads Non Profit Recovery Center for a discounted price.
"We're going to work with a person," said Crain. "I'm not going to turn somebody away and not give them help."
Crain says while there are no-charge options, like a state hospital, such options aren't always feasible.
"When you see the options where there's no charge, you run into places that have a long waiting list," added Crain.