Mark Mandell, Esq.
To many, heroin addiction seems like a distant problem; never expecting the drug to infiltrate their humble community. Yet, it is a real problem that is ravaging communities of all sizes and status in metro Detroit.
Just a few weeks ago a family from Warren, MI fell victim to this deadly drug. The parents found not one, but two of their children dead in their home from heroin overdose1. The father never had suspicions of the drug use: "The signs weren't there. They were doing what they were supposed to do and it still happened."
It may not come as a surprise that heroin use has been on the rise nationally since 2007. What is surprising though is who accounts for those increased numbers. Reports show a spike in use among persons 18-25 years old; among women more than among men; and more among non-Hispanic whites than among others. Treatment facilities have reported the average addict's profile to be white, middle-class, and living in non-urban areas2.
Still think your area is safe from heroin? Not if you live in the counties of Allegan, Genesee, Kalamazoo, Kent, Macomb, Oakland, Saginaw, Van Buren, Washtenaw, Wayne, or Muskegon3. Each was given the designation of "High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area" (HIDTA) by the federal government. A county is given such designation if the following criteria are met4:
(1) The area is a significant center of illegal drug production, manufacturing, importation, or distribution
(2) State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies have committed resources to respond to the drug trafficking problem in the area, thereby indicating a determination to respond aggressively to the problem;
(3) drug-related activities in the area are having a significant harmful impact in the area, and in other areas of the country; and
(4) A significant increase in allocation of Federal resources is necessary to respond adequately to drug-related activities in the area.
Law enforcement agencies report that the drug is not only more readily available, but its potency has skyrocketed. 15-20 years ago heroin was just 3-10 percent pure; nowadays, with the inventory swelling with heroin shipped over through Canada and Mexico into southeastern Michigan from Afghanistan, it's increasingly more potent, up to 90%.5
The result? A heroin epidemic.
In Michigan, 1 in 4 overdose deaths are caused by heroin, up 14% from 20136. Overdose deaths were the #1 cause of injury-related deaths in 2014. In that year, there were 132 overdose deaths in Detroit; 322 in Wayne County (excluding Detroit); 127 in Oakland County; 249 in Macomb County; and 65 in Washtenaw County.7
Although this epidemic has reached our communities, it can be combated through communal efforts. Discuss the heroin epidemic with your neighbors to raise awareness, educate yourself on the signs of addiction, and be prepared to confront the issue head-on. Don't stand and watch while someone's life is destroyed by heroin; take the initiative to seek treatment for the person as soon as possible.
Heroin addiction is not a death sentence. Members of my office as well as myself have witnessed successful and permanent recoveries from addiction. I am available around the clock to assist anyone who is seeking out treatment for themselves or a loved one. I can assist with recovery options, therapy recommendations, offer legal advice, and answer any other questions you may have. Do not hesitate to contact me at (734) 552-1449, or via email: [email protected]