The first time Greg Dagner tried heroin, he said, it “was phenomenally pleasurable and a tremendous rush.” It was like nothing he had ever felt before. “It took away the bad things and added pleasure instead,” said Dagner, who lives in Williamston. “It helped me deal with reality.”
But when the high was over, Dagner said, he felt the urge to use the drug again so he didn’t have to come to terms with his reality. It was a never-ending cycle. The days were the same; he would wake up, get high, go through withdrawal and use again.
By Andrew Merkle
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter
The Ingham County Health Department reported that opioid-related deaths have increased by nearly 66 percent over the last five years after a relatively constant rate from 2003-2010. Heroin is the most common narcotic among the 50 opioid-related deaths in Ingham County last year, according to the Ingham County Health Department. Ingham County is not an anomaly, either. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin-related overdose deaths had nearly quadrupled nationwide between 2002 and 2013, with more than 8,200 such deaths occurring in 2013. As the county and nation are seeing an increase in opioid-related overdose deaths, it should surprise no one that the state of Michigan has seen an increased rate in opioid-related hospitalizations as well.
With much of the country falling victim to the steady rise in heroin use, many ordinary communities across the nation are struggling when it comes to helping those with substance abuse problems. Holt is no different. “A big problem in Holt right now is the same problem everywhere. It’s heroin. It’s huge,” said Delhi Township Supervisor C.J. Davis. “Nobody wants to talk about it.
With winter right around the corner, crime may be one less thing Delhi Township residents need to worry about. With the expectations of another bitterly-cold winter, crime rates may drop, along with temperatures. According to an April 2015 monthly report for Delhi Township, the number of calls for service from January to April of 2013 was 1,384. That number decreased to 708 calls between January and April of 2014. The number of citations issued in Delhi Township also decreased during the same period, from 993 in 2013, to 783 in 2014.
NOTE — THIS IS PAIRED WITH ANOTHER STORY: Heroin problems outpace Michigan’s solutions
By CAITLIN McARTHUR
Capital News Service
LANSING — Those in the fight against heroin and opioids say one of their biggest problems is the absence of up-to-the-minute information on drug cases. A lack of official communication, outdated statistics and inconsistent reporting practices have slowed Michigan’s attempts to combat the continuing heroin and opioid problem, advocates say. They call for better reporting and recordkeeping of heroin deaths, along with legislation to increase the availability of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. Jennifer Smith, public information officer for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said addressing the state’s heroin and prescription drug abuse problem is a priority — and this includes looking at the problems with current reporting systems.
It is difficult to get an accurate read on the scope of the problem due to inconsistencies in the way drug-related overdoses and fatalities are reported in the state. “A perfect example is the year that our organization started (in 2007), it was reported that there were no overdose deaths in Macomb County,” said Linda Davis, a district judge in Clinton Township and president of Families Against Narcotics.
By CAITLIN McARTHUR
The Capital News Service
LANSING — As Michigan struggles to keep up with its growing heroin and opioid addictions, only one state intervention might be working. Traverse City police in April were able to reverse an overdose using naloxone, a drug that can help restore breathing after a heroin or opioid overdose, said Pamela Lynch, consultant and therapist at Northern Lakes Community Mental Health in Traverse City. This was possible because recent state laws allowed doctors to prescribe the drug to people who can administer it, such as police officers, and not just to those who need it. In the Traverse City case, police revived a driver who had crashed into a stop sign while overdosing on heroin. Officers who were the first responders on the scene pulled the driver from the car and administered a dose of naloxone.
By CAITLIN McARTHUR
LANSING — Heroin and related drugs are spreading across Michigan and have become more deadly in recent years, some experts say. Michigan-wide numbers of unintentional overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999, according to a Department of Community Health (DCH) report. Meanwhile, the number of deaths due to other drugs such as cocaine has gone down, according the report. Genesee, Macomb and Wayne Counties account for the highest recent heroin and opioid-related death rates, according to the DCH. But the problem is creeping into other areas: DCH data shows Antrim, Manistee, Clare, Hillsdale and Cass counties all recorded opioid-related overdose rates higher than the state average between 2009 and 2012.
“It can happen to anyone. I’ve seen it a lot,” Aaron Emerson said. Unsuspecting teens are becoming addicted to prescription pills, and moving on to more dangerous drugs. It’s in our medicine cabinets and prescribed by doctors. Prescription drugs, such as opioids, are available for helping people overcome pain and other medical issues, yet sometimes lead people down an addictive road.
By Rashad Timmons
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer
The Ingham County Women’s Commission reviewed the finalists of their bi-annual Everyday Heroine Award on Oct. 9. The commission narrowed the discussion to three women. The finalists included Kristy Medes (Holt), Stephanie Butka (Lansing) and Marcy Bishop Kates (Lansing). The Everyday Heroine Award is given to women who uplift and enhance
the community through dedication and service said, Commission Representative Dorothy Mitstifer.