Trrying a different approach
chiropractor, acutherapist offer free treatment to inmates trying to beat drug addiction
Chiropractor Carolyn Gochee seems an odd sight marching through the front doors of the Moffat County Public Safety center with a briefcase in one hand and a massage table in the other.
“This is Dr. Gochee, and I’m here to see some of the meth patients,” she hollers through an intercom to gain clearance to get into the jail.
But since the arrival of the chiropractor and licensed acutherapist Doug Seward some inmates at the Moffat County Jail have reported health gains. Through a free and voluntary service, Gochee and Seward have been providing hands-on therapy treatments, mostly to methamphetamine users. The effort, some inmates say, is helping them curb the drug’s intense physiological cravings. Currently, Gochee and Seward are seeing four patients addicted to methamphetamine and one inmate who is an alcoholic.
Inmate Luana Cattoor said the treatments have made her feel better than she has in 28 years. The Craig woman has used meth every day for the past 15 years. She was booked into jail in April after police found some of the substance in her possession. While serving time for her third drug offense and looking at a steep court-imposed bond, Cattoor said that it’s time she took her life back.
“I am going to get better,” she said decidedly, dressed in prison stripes and jail-issued flat black shoes. “I’m going to get out of here, get my kids and run.”
To do that, Cattoor knows she first must face her addictions.
The free treatments are her first step toward getting out, she said.
Cattoor underwent her fourth treatment Friday. Gochee set up her table in a small interview room off the jail’s booking station. With Cattoor on her back, Gochee worked her fingers into the inmate’s side, pressed pressure points on her arms and wrangled with her neck. Though he wasn’t present Friday, Seward’s treatments involve stimulating points on the ear with electricity.
The therapies help rid the body organs of the toxicity of drug use that has built up over the years, Gochee said.
“Cells have memory regardless of what people say,” Gochee said.
“We’re trying to reset that memory and get that gunk out of their systems a lot quicker.”
Gochee practices the Sacro Occipital Technique, or SOT. It is a method of chiropractic care that identifies the cause of symptoms. SOT works to fix underlying spinal, cranial and organ-related problems. Gochee said that the technique could help normalize organ functions and calm the nervous system.
It also can help relieve the high levels of stress often innate in drug addicts.
The treatments are offered to inmates in the jail on a voluntary basis with Gochee’s office picking up the tab. It is the first time the jail has opened its doors to offering drug addicts hands-on treatment while inmates are behind bars.
For Cattoor, the help is a jumpstart on treatment that she has been seeking for a long time. Cattoor wants to enroll in a formal drug rehabilitation treatment center, but can’t afford the $600 deposit for a program that costs thousands of dollars.
But after her first treatment in jail, Cattoor said she immediately felt more energy. During free time outside her pod, she has started jogging around the jail’s enclosed cement-floor gymnasium. She no longer drinks coffee because she said it gives her too much energy.
“Since I’ve been doing this, I feel good,” she said. “I have a lot of natural energy.”
Former Moffat County Sheriff’s employee Annette Gianinetti wanted to know more about why people became addicted to meth. So the member of Craig’s Communities Overcoming Methamphetamine Addictions group would sometimes visit with inmate drug addicts.
There she learned of the shattered personal lives and stresses that often drove people to use the drug.
“A lot of people using meth already have a lot of issues to begin with,” she said. “People who use meth aren’t bad people. They just aren’t aware of how addictive and destructive meth is until it hits them.”
Gianinetti said she had long talks with one inmate who was addicted to meth. She said the man’s first success with the therapy treatments were that it allowed him to get some uninterrupted sleep, something that he hadn’t been able to do in years.
“He told me he got about 5 and a half hours of sleep,” she said. “That was the first thing he noticed. I had no idea it was that bad.”
Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead said the first thing he noticed about the treatments is a decrease in inmates’ anger.
Grinstead said that meth users follow a similar pattern after being booked into the jail. The first couple of weeks involve a period of time in which inmates are angry, especially drug users as they go through withdrawal period. By the third or fourth week inmates are itching to get out of jail. It’s during the sixth or seventh week of incarceration that inmates are seeking help to battle their addictions. That’s where the treatments of Gochee and Seward treatment come in.
“It’s not something that we want to put an inmate through that’s right off the streets,” he said. “We kind of wait to offer it until they have a clear mind.”
The downside of treating inmates is their transitional status. Gochee said that it has been difficult to track drug addicts’ progress once they bond out of jail. Though they are encouraged to continue treatments with Gochee and Seward once they get out of jail, not one of their patients has yet followed up on the free offer.
It also makes it difficult to track drug users’ condition, as the treatments aren’t court-ordered.
Though Gochee hears that the therapy is helpful for inmates, she sometimes wonders if they simply use the therapy as an excuse to get out of their cells.
And, Gochee said she gets frustrated when others in the medical field disregard the practice.
Gochee practiced the therapy at a Salvation Army adult rehabilitation center in St. Louis, Mo. where she said she experienced some success.
Jail Administrator Lt. Dean Herndon said this is the first time he has heard of a jail allowing hands-on treatment for inmates. Friday was the first time he had witnessed the process.
“I think with anything like this, people are always skeptical,” he said.
However if it helps just one meth user never to use again, the therapy is worth it, Herndon said. At that point, he’ll recommend that all inmates receive the therapy.
While Cattoor is appreciative of the service, her real test comes when she gets out of jail.
At that time she’ll have to deal with her friends, who are users.
Life on the outside will be a challenge, she admits. She can’t promise that she’ll never touch the drug again.
Cattoor did say that she’d continue receiving Gochee’s treatment upon her release.
“When I get out, the people that are dealing it will be looking for me,” Cattoor said. “The real test is when I walk out of here.
“Until then, I won’t know.”
Amy Hamilton can be reached at 824-7031.