Hamilton Co. inmate dies of overdose, mother on crusade to help addicts

WALNUT HILLS (FOX19) - It was one year ago today that James Barton, a drug addicted inmate at the Hamilton County jail, died from a drug overdose.

Since that time, Barton's mother Rosie Christian has been on a crusade to help other addicts and their families.

Christian says she's on a single minded mission to raise public awareness about heroin and getting treatment for addicts. She held a block party Sunday in Walnut Hills.

"One thing I promised my son, because he said he had some friends that were on the streets, that I would try to help them," said Christian.

Christian organized a block party for the community, addicts and the homeless at the Asili Museum and Institute in Walnut Hills.

Randall Johnson is a recovering heroin addict from Florence, Ky. He says the block party was all about spreading a message of hope.

"For addiction there's help besides jails, institutions and death," said Jackson. "There's different ways other than those three to live, not struggle to survive, but to actually live."

Brandon Kutchera, another recovering addict, says he's living proof there is life after heroin.

"Recovery is possible. It just takes some love and understanding from family members and friends and a little compassion and a little belief in yourself," said Kutchera.

Kutchera is also a local rapper who goes by the name Cincinnati Kid whose embodies the struggle with addiction and joy of recovery.

A mobile lab was also on hand to provide free testing for HIV and Hepatitis C. Cincinnati Needle Exchange Program Coordinator, Libby Harrison says HIV and Hepatitis C are just two more consequences of heroin addiction.

"When people are ready to quit, the less damage they can walk away with the easier it is. So we're trying to decrease the diseases that are innately related to injection drug use," said Harrison.

Mercedes Catlin, a single mother of three, says evidence of that drug use is just too close for comfort.

"I was walking my children to daycare and as the ice and the snow were melting in January I see that there's a used needle right there only feet away from my children's daycare and it really hit hard," said Catlin.

All across the tri-state, heroin deaths are on the rise. Experts say the problem needs to be attacked on many fronts - including education, law enforcement and better access to treatment for addicts.

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