JACKSON, MI (WLNS) – According to a mid-Michigan prosecutor, heroin is the number one drug problem in his community and today, he’s fighting back.
The numbers are staggering, in the first 3 months, more than 20 people have lost their lives to drug over doses in Jackson County.
The Jackson County area has been hit especially hard by heroin but there’s also a huge prescription drug issue across the state.
From 2009 to 2012, a total of 930 people died from Opioid overdoses.
Over the same time period, more than 825 people overdosed on heroin.
The numbers paint a bleak picture of a growing problem, but today the Jackson Prosecutor’s office is ready to fight the epidemic, with an event to raise awareness.
“He was a great kid, he had a lot of friends, he was an athlete…” Mike Hirst said as he explains this all that started to disappear when his son Andy got addicted to drugs.
“He got involved with prescription opiates right when he got out of school, and that took him down in a matter of 3 or 4 years.” Mike Hirst said about his son Andy.
Those prescriptions quickly led Andy to heroin. Later Andy got clean and worked with law enforcement to keep dealers off the street but one day while at a jobsite, he relapsed and died at the young age of 24.
Stories like Andy’s are the reason why Prosecutor Jerry Jarzynka organized the Jackson county drug Summit.
“You know this is our number one drug issue. And in Jackson basically it all starts from prescription pain killers, pain killers known as synthetic heroin or opiates. You get addicted to that… the stats show that 3 out of 4 addicts then switched to powder heroin which is cheaper than buying a pain killer pill on the street.” Jackson County Prosecutor Jerry Jarzynka said.
Speakers say conversations, and awareness are the way the community can save lives, and people like Christopher Risner, say events like this help save his life.
“As much as I was to help other people, doing things like this helps me stay sober” Christopher Risner, a recovered addict, who shared his story at the event said.
This is the second Jackson County Drug Summit, and it has sparked local high schools like Michigan Center, to design their own event and prevent teens from using drugs .