Just a few hours remained in the third-shift workday when a Madison Precision Products employee went to the restroom last week. It’s a short break she won’t be forgetting any time soon.

The day had been like many others, and she was only about two hours away from the end of her shift. During a slower time in production, she took a minute to go into the restroom. Unbeknownst to the employee at the time, 32-year-old Kimberly B. Earl – an Indiana Department of Correction inmate working through a work-release program in another area of the factory – was already in one of the bathroom stalls. 

Soon, the employee noticed something was wrong with Earl.

“I heard her make this horrible sound I’ll never forget,” she said.

Next, she noticed Earl on the floor. There was a needle in her arm. Earl was overdosing on heroin.

The employee ran out of the restroom to the nearest supervisor for help. First responders and law enforcement came to the factory and administered Narcan, which allowed Earl – who had already begun to turn blue – to regain consciousness.

Seeing someone overdose could shake anyone, but it hit especially close to home for the employee who also is a Ruth Haven Transitional House resident.

“It’s an eye opener,” she said. “That was my addiction for three years.”

In some ways, she understood Earl and her drug use. But she never witnessed someone overdosing before.

Earl’s overdose made something very clear to the other woman: It could have been her.

“It just hit home,” she said. “It can and will happen.”

The 23-year-old, who The Madison Courier agreed to not identify, had been in and out of jail three times in one year due to her addiction before she began her journey to sobriety.

“I just hit rock bottom, and I needed a change,” she said. That included finding transitional housing in Jefferson County.

She’s been sober for seven months. 

“I just don’t want to go back to that life,” she said.

During her four months at Ruth Haven Transitional House, the woman has learned skills to live an addiction-free life through Narcotics Anonymous/Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and other drug classes.

She works, pays rent, completes community service and has learned responsibility in a structured environment that she says she needed.

Her sobriety has already changed the way she thinks.

Ruth Haven Transitional House manager Cherilyn Miller said the resident made an observation after coming back from work the day of the overdose. In sobriety, the resident’s first thought was to go and get help for Earl. As an addict, her first concern most likely would have been to get rid of the evidence so they wouldn’t get in trouble when police responded.

Although eye opening, she believes the overdose happened for a reason. 

Her journey to sobriety has been important to her since she began an addiction-free life, but she hadn’t really considered others’ sobriety. She now hopes to do more to help and give back to others dealing with addiction after witnessing the overdose.

“I believe that situation was meant to be,” she said.

Due to the current situation, the resident can’t have contact with Earl – who remains at an IDOC facility. Earl’s release from prison has been delayed due to the overdose, and she faces a drug charge in Jefferson County following the incident.

Still, the employee knows what she would tell Earl if she could.

“There is a new way to live.”