2017-04-20 / Front Page

Families Against Narcotics chapter gains local support

By Cindy Centofanti
Staff writer • 989-269-9918 • ccentofanti@mihomepaper.com

BAD AXE — Eight opiate-related overdose deaths and an increase in drug-related crimes have caused community leaders to seek a new way to battle the epidemic in Huron County.

A round table meeting on Thursday April, 13 at the Huron County ISD building was packed full of representatives from a multitude of different agencies that deal with drugs, including community education, treatment and law enforcement. Attendees included representatives from the Huron County Sherriff’s Office, Huron Medical Center, Scheurer Hospital, the prosecutor’s office, local courts and the probation office.

Shelly O’Henley, Substance Abuse Specialist at the Huron Health Department, told the group about the steps needed in order to make a new Families Against Narcotics chapter in Huron County a success.

O’Henley first addressed the group with an introduction about the organization.

Families Against Narcotics is a community based program for those seeking recovery, those in recovery or have had family members affected by addiction. The organization seeks to change the face of addiction, dispel the stigma of addiction, and educate the community as well as those affected by addiction. Families Against Narcotics also seeks to establish chapters where communities need them the most.

The community-based program was founded in Fraser, Mich. when a rattled group of citizens gathered in a church basement in 2007. The people gathered in hopes to find a solution to the opioid-overdose deaths of several local young people. Many of the attendees were also grieving losses of their own, or dealing with loved ones who were battling addiction and didn’t know how to cope.

O’Henley said that in order for the Huron County Families Against Narcotics chapter to be implemented, an executive board would have to be elected. The board would include a seat for a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and three to seven directors. The advisory board members would consist on the upwards of 30 members, and could include concerned members from the community, recovering addicts (one year sobriety mandated) or family members wishing to shed light on what it’s like to watch a loved one’s battle with drugs.

The committee or officials appointed to the Families Against Narcotics’ executive and advisory board would be required to pay a one-time fee $1,000 due at the end of the initial year and $500 per year afterwards. DTE however, has already donated the start-up funds to help get the chapter on its feet. The dues would allow specific utilization of the funds to allocate speakers, help in building a community program accessible for all, pamphlets, business cards or any other miscellaneous items that would be used for community awareness.

Huron County Circuit Court Judge Gerald M. Prill was the first to speak mentioning that Judge Linda Davis aided in the foundation of the Macomb Families Against Narcotics chapter. Davis served as Macomb’s sobriety court judge when she was approached by her daughter, who admitted that she had an addiction to heroin, an opioid. Davis suddenly faced a world that was turned upside-down. All contact from the hospital ceased, and no one seemed to have any answers on how to help her daughter, which is how the Macomb Families Against Narcotics chapter started.

Prill spoke of how susceptible people are to narcotics with a reference to a video demonstrating a doctor writing a prescription. The doctor first suggests prescribing a non-narcotic medication, but a concerned mother urges for more for her hurting daughter, the doctor then writes a prescription for an opioid narcotic.

Prill said the video is an excellent demonstration of why the general public need to be informed about what addiction means in current day form. Many people are unaware of how susceptible they are to getting hooked on opioids without even knowing.

O’Henley stressed the importance throughout the meeting that participation is required on all parts. It takes a strong community to come together, but an even stronger one to stand up and know when it is time to put an end to the agony and suffering that opioids and narcotics impose on loved ones.

Of all the participants, Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson has been a continual participant being an outspoken advocate against the battle of drugs in Huron County.

“A little over five years ago we had a similar meeting like this down in dispatch, and we made a major accomplishment,” Hanson commented on the accomplishment of abolishing the bath salts epidemic five years ago. “I believe we are on the right track, and we are heading somewhere.”

Hanson knows waging wars with heroin and the abuse of prescription drugs is no game, but he remains confident that as long as there is active participation from all local county agencies, there should be a similar fate in abolishing this current drug problem as well.

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