Calhoun Co. fighting surge in heroin overdoses

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MARSHALL, Mich. — Small towns across the country have come face-to-face with the growing heroin epidemic that’s been ravaging their neighborhoods. Small towns in Michigan are no different. Calhoun County alone has seen 18 overdoses in the last nine days. Four of them fatal.

“From Homer to Battle Creek, Marshall, Pennfield were the four fatal overdoses,” said Sheriff Matt Saxton with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office. “The overdoses that we know of within the law enforcement community have been spread throughout the county as well.”

Saxton said the deaths could stem from a new ingredient called Fentanyl. The drug is typically used to treat severe pain. But when it’s mixed with heroin it makes for a very potent, and sometimes lethal, dose. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Fentanyl makes heroin 30-50 times more powerful. To gather more data, the sheriff’s office has teamed up with local health officials.

“We started a conversation with the Health Department's Substance Abuse Council trying to look at ways we could better track heroin overdoses so we can get a true picture of what is going on here in Calhoun country which is really not much different than whether you’re in Ohio, Alabama, California,” said Saxton. “Its a national epidemic.”

Saxton added that  sheriffs in Calhoun County are applying Narcan to save lives. It’s a nasal spray that immediately reverses the affects of an overdose the moment it’s administered. Some places are using the drug injection form of Narcan.

“Battle Creek city has already had one saved with it,” said Saxton. “In Washtenaw County, they’ve had it at their use and their tool box for five months, they’ve had 11 saves just from their deputies alone.”

Saxton said in order to combat the issue and keep heroin out of neighborhoods, it’s going to take a collective effort from all residents: parents, teachers, doctors and religious leaders too.

“It’s a community issue that will take a community to decrease the amount of overdoses we’re seeing and to get those addicted the help that they need,” said Saxton.



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  • Joe Bidden

    The war on pain and the pressure the DEA puts on doctors who prescribe pain medicine have left many people who suffer without their medicine. This forces them to seek alternative treatment which leads them to using heroin. The DEA shouldn’t be involved in who doctors prescribe medicine to. Instead they should just stay focused on people who sell or are caught with something not prescribed on their person.

    Doctors and pharmacies are only allowed to dispense so many prescriptions per month. If they go over that amount they get audited by the DEA.

    If someone has a prescription for medical marijuana and also receives a pain killers and both show up in their now forced monthly drug tests, then they are fired by their doctor. There is a lot of medical evidence that using medical marijuana helps reduce the amount of additional pain medicine taken.

    Not all people’s pain is relieved with just one or the other. Yes, opiates are bad and addicting, but it should be up to the doctor and the patient to decide what works best for them without DEA being involved.

    Let the DEA go after people on the streets who have not been prescribed that medicine, or who are selling it to others and leave doctors, pharmacies and law abiding citizens alone.

    Until you truly have experienced chronic debilitating pain, you shouldn’t judge how people manage their lives.

    – Joe

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