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Organizations fight epidemic as overdose deaths continue to rise

Organizations fight epidemic as overdose deaths continue to rise

(WPBN/WGTU) -- The number of people dying of opioid overdoses in the state continues to rise.

New data from the state says there were nearly two thousand opioid related deaths in 2017, up about 9 percent from 2016.

The crisis is causing many communities to create organizations to fight against the epidemic.

“It’s an area that’s under-served, people don’t really understand it a lot, but it has such an impact on really every single part of our society,” said Sara Sircely.

Sircely specializes in substance use disorder services for the Northern Michigan Regional Entity.

Along with treatment, prevention and recovery services, they also oversee dozens of drug free coalitions.

“It’s really data driven, they determine what their community has, what it might not have and what they can do to help solve this issue,” said Sircely.

The coalitions can receive some funding from the NMRE and are started by area stakeholders to address problems their specific communities are facing.

But other non-profits such as Families Against Narcotics, are also making a difference in northern Michigan.

“When we were getting into this, first getting into this I kept hearing about all these different groups doing different things, and I started wondering is this just redundant should we really do this,” said Kathy Jones.

But after receiving positive feedback, Kathy Jones started the Grand Traverse Chapter.

She says, this was really the first group offering the support system she thought the region needed.

“You know I’ve seen families just crying now that there’s somebody to help them,” said Jones. “And people in recovery or with addiction issues, they’re just really happy that there’s something like this.”

She credits the Grand Traverse Drug Free Coalition with their success in getting set up.

“The coalition really is our support, pretty much we work together, we are part of them,” said Jones.

Whether it’s Narcan training, or a place for family members to gather, both say the goal is to have an impact on even one life.

“In the past four years that the services have been managed by the Northern Michigan Regional Entity, we have been able to make a huge difference,” said Sircely.

“We can only do what we can do in our area,” said Jones. “So, if there’s something we can do to solve it or come up with solutions in our area then let’s do what we can.”

Families Against Narcotics meets the first Thursday of every month at 6:30 at Central United Methodist in Traverse City, anyone is welcome to attend.

For a list of coalitions, click here.

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