Those affected by heroin addiction share their stories at Jackson High School

JACKSON, MI (WLNS) – On average, one person dies every two weeks from a heroin overdose in Jackson County.

Christopher Risner was a user.

“I definitely have the disease of addiction,” said Risner.

He started taking opiates when he was 17 years old. The former high school basketball star had scholarships to multiple college, but threw it all away because the addiction was that powerful.

Risner said, “you’re not going to be able to stop on your own. I know. I have been to rehab four times. When you’re out there using and you’re dope sick, it really isn’t a choice whether you use or not because the cards are so stacked against you.”

How bad is the problem?

Jackson Police responded to two calls for heroin just this weekend. They were treated at Henry Ford Allegiance Health and survived. But, some aren’t so lucky.

Andy’s Angels Founder Michael Hirst lost his son to addiction.

“It quickly destroyed his entire life. He went from a nice young kid who graduated from high school, who worked for me, who had everything going for him, to somebody who died in an outhouse on a construction site four years later,” said Hirst.

Ever since, he’s led a crusade to bring more awareness to this growing epidemic.

Hirst said, “it’s not something that’s going to go away. The fact of the matter is you have a better chance of surviving most cancers than you do of getting off Heroin.”

Prompting the panel to target high schoolers . . . get early exposure that will lead to more education.

Rep. Tim Walberg said, “we had the privilege of having a guy who is fighting this addiction himself so far and is now being successful. He wants to share that. That’s a powerful message to high school students as well as community members who came in.”

The panel members know the work never stops when it comes to attacking addiction head on.

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