Heroin Epidemic Reaches Northern Michigan
Heroin and prescription opioid abuse and addiction have been in the news A LOT lately. I’m written quite a few articles on Eastern states like New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York. Also Missouri, and some central mid-western states, as well.
Michigan is my home, and it is quite unique. It’s not entirely mid-west, not entirely east, but it is really darn close to Windsor, Canada. We are separated by only 118 miles from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but that would require a nautical trip across Lake Michigan. Same goes for New York…right down Lake Erie.
We are surrounding by lakes….big ones. Our lower peninsula is shaped like a mitten, and our upper peninsula is very rural. In fact, it feels as much like an extension of Canada as it does of Michigan.
Traverse City and Grand Traverse County are as unique to Michigan as Michigan is to the rest of the country.
Known for ski resorts, wineries, and beautiful Grand Traverse Bay, formed of yet another small peninsula separating it from Lake Michigan.
It’s also home of the National Cherry Festival, and considered to be the cherry capital of the world. It is home to just less than 90,000 residents.
The Heroin Epidemic
Last month, at least 7 persons overdosed on heroin in the county. One 35-year-old man died of a suspected overdose (pending toxicology report) and 6 others were revived after medical intervention. Reportedly, some were saved by the anti-opioid overdose drug naloxone.
The following weeks wrought a multi-agency sting which arrested 9 for drug-related offenses in both the Grand Traverse and Detroit areas. In addition, the Traverse Narcotics Team arrested two Detroit men in late January. They allegedly supplied cocaine and heroin to several co-defendants, who then transported the drugs into the Traverse City area,
Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney:
“We have a real concern about the obvious public health issue in our community that’s being caused by heroin and opioid drugs,”
The use of heroin and opioids is on the rise for all income brackets and most age groups in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Overdose fatalities due to the heroin epidemic are on the rise, too – they basically quadrupled between 2002-2013. In 2013, there were more than 8,200 heroin-related overdose fatalities.
I live in the central Michigan area near the capital city of Lansing. I was unaware until recently that my small town of Grand Ledge had a heroin problem, as well.
I grew up in a small town 30 miles south of Lansing, and the thought of doing heroin never crossed my mind. I certainly would not have known where to get it, had I even wanted it.
I always thought of heroin as a big city drug, and I could see areas like Detroit and Flint having such problems. But even a few years ago, I could never have imagined how many rural and well-kept suburban areas heroin would infiltrate. It’s just crazy.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology