Popping pills to heroin: High school students learn dangers of opioid use

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The opioid crisis is devastating families across the country. 
      
Thursday morning, a mid-Michigan congressman and community leaders spoke to students during an assembly at Jackson High School, warning them about how popping just one pill can lead to a life of addiction. 

After finding his son, Andy, with a needle in his arm, dead from a heroin overdose. 

Mike Hirst vowed to fight back. 

“We are not going to let this happen to the youth of our nation,” Hurst said. 

He spoke during the assembly with Congressman Tim Walberg and Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jerry Jarzynka. 
     
Their mission is to educate students about the dangers of prescription opioids and how using those drugs can lead to heroin.  
     
“They have to understand that more people die from the prescription opioids than from heroin and cocaine combined. So it’s pretty important they understand that these drugs are not safe,” Hirst said. 

Drug-ravaged communities like jackson are looking to lawmakers for help. 

Congressman Walberg says work continues in Washington to battle this crisis, but he says students need to face what’s happening. 

“I’m hoping it will give them at least a chance to say, you know, this is maybe something I ought to consider,” said Walberg, a republican who represents Michigan’s 7th congressional district. “I asked them to make choices, and to make choices that impact society for good. I told the students today, it comes down to them making the decisions. Government is not going swoop in and save you from a wrong decision.” 

Students who spoke with 6 News say they hope fellow classmates get the message that these dangerous drugs shouldn’t be played with. 

“Everyone thinks of heroin as like a hard drug and its way more serious than taking a few pills. I think it was good to hear that there really isn’t any difference, the body accepts them all the same,” said student Emily Butters. 

“It’s getting serious. I actually had a family member going through stuff like that, and it’s touching,” said student Dontrell Ross. 

Hirst says his son was no different than the students sitting in the assembly, and he hopes students will see that addiction can happen to anyone. 
     
“This is the real thing, you don’t come back from this,” Hirst said. 

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