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Story of hope from the Albany County Jail

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ALBANY, NY (WRGB) For two months now Christopher Ritz has walked inside the Albany County Jail for work, inside the kitchen. It is a job he is grateful for.

“I’m very blessed that opportunity was there,” he said

It is also a job that just a few years ago he couldn’t picture. At that point he did not see the jail as a blessing. He just wanted to get out.

Ritz said that he started using drugs and alcohol when he was thirteen years old. He said that his addiction first got him arrested in 2013.

“I was in and out probably seven or eight times and the last time I was in here was an eight and a half month stay,” he said.

It was during that last time in jail that he learned about the Sheriff’s Heroin Addiction Recovery Program, or SHARP. It is a treatment program for inmates at the Albany County Jail and it was the first shot at recovery that Ritz said he took seriously.

“I was going down a bad, bad path. I think getting arrested stopped that from spiraling into something huge, or not being here today to actually talk about it, so I think that saved my life getting arrested,” said Ritz.

When he was released he continued treatment. He said he has now been in recovery for three years. A couple of months ago he returned to express gratitude and left with a lead on a job.

“I came back to thank them and they asked me what I was doing as far as work,” said Ritz.

He said he was encouraged to apply.

Now, he hopes his story is proof to others that recovery is possible.

“It’s a day at a time for me. I have to remember where I came from every day and this helps a lot, working here, because I see it every day, where I was and where I am now,” said Ritz.

“I work here because of my actions I took. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t do those changes. I’d probably unfortunately still be living here if I didn’t make changes I was supposed to,” said Ritz. “I feel like it’s part of my recovery road.”

Ritz said he now also speaks to students about his experience. He hopes to help even one person break the cycle of addiction.

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