Law enforcement, medical community join forces to fight heroin addiction

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JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — Heroin is a drug that is hurting communities across mid-Michigan.

But officials in Jackson County are hoping that bringing multiple people together to discuss the epidemic can help them battle this dangerous drug.

6 News went to the Jackson County Drug Summit on Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse at Jackson College.

Now in its third year, Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jerry Jarzynka says there was a huge turnout.

“We have close to 300 people attending,” Jarzynka said.

Jarzynka says this year’s focus is exploring the link between painkillers and heroin.

He says it’s the biggest drug issue in Jackson County.

“We wanted to take a community wide approach, to get the citizens involved, to attack the issue,” Jarzynka said.

He says a big part of that is working with the local medical community on how they prescribe painkillers.

“The statistics are that four out of five people who use heroin started with painkiller drugs,” Jarzynka said.

The emergency room director at Henry Ford Allegiance Hospital says doctors have a key role in battling heroin addiction.

“I think the goal is to change our prescribing habits, which we have done over the years in this community,” said Dr. Rami Khoury.

Medical professionals also need to recognize the signs of heroin use without scaring off people who need help.

“To say, you know what, you’re not going to get arrested; you’re going to get the help that you personally need. They’re ashamed so we’re not going to hold that against them,” Dr. Khoury said.

Jarzynka says this connection between law enforcement and the medical community will be worked on in 2017.

“It’s an issue so big, we want to attack it from different perspectives,” Jarzynka said.

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