Drug abuse in Michigan is an immense problem surrounding the entire state.
In 2015, Michigan had the seventh-most drug overdoses in the nation, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Even small areas such as Bath and DeWitt Townships have seen drug use within its borders.
While these townships are small, they have managed to make statewide news with their drug issues over the last few years, including an August meth lab raid in a DeWitt motel that sent two people into custody.
Clinton County, which the townships of Bath and DeWitt fall under, suffered one death from a heroin overdose and three others died from opiate-related causes in 2013, according to Stopping Addiction with Family Education (SAFE).
Area officials have been on edge recently with abusers of prescription drugs turning to heroin as a cheaper and more potent alternative than prescription drugs. SAFE reported that Clinton County saw close to 150 violations of the Controlled Substance Act in 2014.
“We respond to quite a few drug incidents,” Bath Township Police officer Greg Welch said.
When Bath Township Police are asked to help someone or a family affected by drugs, the department calls in the unit’s chaplain to help resolve the matter.
“The chaplain also deals with grief,” Welch said. “For example, a widow in the township needs comfort after a loved one has died, however, the last ones I remember he responded to are drug overdoses.”
Welch said the department chaplain is a reserve officer and that half of his calls are for drug-related incidents.
There are several rehab centers a short drive away in the Lansing area, including the Edward W. Sparrow Hospital Substance Abuse Program and McMathis Counseling Services.
Cindy Morris is just one of many Michigan residents who has been affected by drug use.
Morris knew something was wrong when her prescription bottle was empty.
Morris only took three of 120 pills, so she knew someone had stole her medication, which was intended to help ease any pain she experienced following a knee surgery seven years ago.
Eventually, she traced the empty bottle to her son, 17 at the time.
“I called a good friend of his over, and we waited for him to come home and we talked with him, and I had got him into counseling,” Morris said. “He … then he quit going. Then when he was 17 — in Michigan kids know parents cannot make them come back home — and he started staying with friends and quit school. I even asked the cops to bring him home and I was told he was considered to be an adult (and) he could make his own choices, but if he got in trouble, it would fall back on me if anything happened before he was 18.”
What was — at first — an addiction to pain pills then transitioned into harder drugs.
“Well, it went on from pills to cocaine to heroin, and now, I hate to say this and it breaks my heart, but he is in prison,” Morris said.
But through it all, Morris said she will never quit on her son.
Her son has been in prison for over two months after not being able to uphold his probation requirements and is now in Chelsea, Michigan, at a special alternative incarceration facility.
“I am praying this helps him,” she said. “He does fine if he stays away from all the people that do it. It’s just so bad in our town.”
Morris doesn’t know how her son, now 24, is doing at the facility, but will after he advances through the program.
“We are not allowed to visit or call,” she said. “After 43 days, he can call me for 10 minutes on a Sunday. I do write him and send pics of his son and make sure he knows we love him and have not forgotten about him.”
Morris’ son has a 3-year-old child with his ex-girlfriend, who left him because of drugs.
“It truly breaks my heart for our family and for my grandson, but I will never give up on him,” Morris said. “He is a part of me and he is such a good guy. I really hope there is a way to get more help out there for addicts and their families. I have had to deal with this all on my own with help from my dad that passed away last November (on the) 13th, so I have been dealing with this all by myself for a year. With help from my husband as well, but it’s hard for him to understand as well.”
Morris and her husband have never done drugs nor drank alcohol. Having their son abuse drugs has left Morris and their husband in a state of shock.
“We could not believe this had happen this our family,” she said. “It can happen to anyone’s family. … I pray every night for all addicts to be healed just as well as cancer patients.”
Kali Lux, community lead for the Ann Arbor-based addiction center Workit Health, abused drugs for most of her life but is now drug free.
Lux sought several resources to cure her addiction, including detox facilities, counseling and 12-step programs.
“I don’t think there was an extreme stepping-off point of negative consequences, but I think I had to try to control my drug use in every way possible,” she said. “I wanted to keep using so badly, and I kept telling myself, ‘It would be different this time, it would be different this time, regardless of how bad things had gotten last time.’ I really had to exhaust all options of using on my own to realize I was powerless over drugs and needed help.”
Lux no longer uses but wants those struggling with abuse to know they aren’t alone.
“My advice to those who are struggling would be to find what works for you,” she said. “You aren’t alone, and there are different treatment pathways to recovery. For example, 12-step programs are free and cheap, counseling is private and personal, and inpatient is pricier but offers an escape from your current situation. It’s a personal choice.”
For Hartford native Laurie Hunt, dealing with a loved one abusing is “a living hell.”
“I am the mother of a addict,” she said. “He was into meth. He is now serving three to 10 (years) in prison for his role in sales. It’s a living hell; changes your child into someone you don’t know anymore. I was aware he used but not of the sales. Honestly, I believed he wasn’t using at the time. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how addiction feels for him.
“Of course he’s full of regret now. The only thing I can say is if you know an addict, always reassure them that you love them. There’s nothing anyone can do to help them until they can admit they need help and ask for it.”
Her son, who has five children, never left any bottles around the house. She noticed a change in his attitude, the people he would surround himself with and would, from time to time, find little things about his drug use. Then it became official when his ex told Hunt he abused.
“It took a while, but he did stop,” Hunt said. “He knew I wasn’t going to deal with it; I would turn him in, and he was going to have to move. The second time was the morning he and his girlfriend at the time were being raided and CPS (Child Protective Services) called for us to come and get the children so they didn’t have to be placed in foster care. There was three children in the home. They are with their other grandparents now, and the girlfriend at the time has been doing good and should be getting them back.”
Michigan native Kimberly Grubbs said her addiction to pain pills started when she was prescribed pain pills to help dissolve her pain from a back surgery and having her teeth pulled.
“I have three of my own kids and three (stepchildren) and a grandbaby,” she said. “Being addicted is a very horrible life, I promise you that.”
Grubbs then went to a doctor in Coldwater, Michigan, to try to seek help in her addiction.
“Well, my first appointment was my history of use so he could know how much and how long,” Grubbs said. “He said it is nothing to be embarrassed about. An addiction will catch you out of nowhere and you will never know what hit you.”
With help from her doctor, who she now calls the “best doctor ever,” Grubbs is now drug free.
For most, these statistics are just a number, but for many Michigan residents, these statistics have a face that is a constant reminder of drug use and addiction. No matter how long one abuses drugs, it’s never too late to help cure their addiction.