Heroin epidemic in focus in Jackson County

JACKSON, Mich (WLNS) – Every two weeks an average of one person dies of an opioid overdose in Jackson County.

That number surprised a number of people at a heroin forum being held today at the Jackson High School library.

The forum, headed by Congressman Tim Walberg, brought together health officials, law enforcement, former addicts and members of the public to focus attention on the size and scope of the heroin problem in Jackson.

Jackson County Sheriff Steve Rand shared the number of deaths in the county and added arresting people will not stop the problem. Sheriff Rand suggested raising awareness is a key to controlling the epidemic.

Henry Ford Allegiance Health Dr. Rami Khoury told the group that Michigan is the tenth highest ranked state in terms of heroin-opioid use. He added he sees children as young as 12 years old “popping pills”.

The reality of opioid addiction was made very real when recovering addict Christopher Risner told his story. He said he was 17 when he began taking Vicodin. Eventually he was kicked off his high school basketball team because of his drug use. Risner said at one point he to 88 Percocets in two days to avoid drug sickness brought on by his addiction.

6 News Jackson bureau reporter Joe Gebhardt is at the hearing and will have updates online and on 6 News tonight.

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