Letter: We all face the opioid epidemic
The War on Drugs has taken on a new meaning in the United States. Today’s drugs of choice are often the opioids that are readily accessible by any person from any background, often legally. And it’s a war we all are facing.
According to Fortune magazine, an estimated 254 million opioid prescriptions were filled in 2010 alone, enough to medicate every adult in the U.S. on a round-the-clock basis for a month. Fast forward to 2016 when more than 64,000 people in the U.S. died from a drug overdose, which is now the leading cause of accidental death in this country, as compared to the approximately 58,000 U.S. military deaths during the entire decade of the Vietnam War. In Wayne County alone, the number of deaths from drug overdose jumped from just over 500 in 2015 to more than 800 in 2016.
As a result of the heightened focus on the abuse of drugs, the media, government, health industry and legal community have joined together to attack this problem. The issue is far more personal though for those who have lost a family member or friend due to addiction.
In 2007, after nearly losing her daughter to addiction, Judge Linda Davis of Macomb County helped establish Families Against Narcotics (FAN) to provide support and resources to individuals and families suffering from addiction, and educate students and parents about the dangers of drug abuse.
There are now more than 20 FAN chapters in Michigan with new chapters emerging in other states. FAN has also expanded its efforts to assist those in addiction by introducing Hope Not Handcuffs which permits individuals to go to a police department or online to seek help without fear of arrest. To date, more than 600 people in Macomb County have benefited from this program with the hope that the program will expand to Wayne County soon.
This fall, a new FAN chapter was introduced to provide much needed assistance for communities in the Downriver area. The public is invited to attend meetings held at 6:30 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at Turning Point Clubhouse, 1605 Fort St., Lincoln Park. Other FAN chapters are around the area as well.
Gregory A. Clifton
Chief Judge, 25th District Court
President, Downriver FAN