Leaders meet to combat neighborhoods being "flooded" with opioid - WNEM TV 5

Leaders meet to combat neighborhoods being "flooded" with opioids

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BAY CITY, MI (WNEM) -

Opiates are running through the veins of Mid-Michigan communities. 

"The neighborhoods and communities are being flooded with prescription opiates and heroin and the numbers are exponentially increasing," Calvin Higgins said. Higgins is the resident agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency in Flint.

People with all different roles in the war on opiates came together for a heroin summit Thursday trying to find a solution.

"DEA wants to reach out, use us. Bring us to your meetings, bring us to your schools," Higgins told the summit.

They not only discussed how to best educate the public, but also how to give those in the throes of addiction a better chance at finding recovery.

Community leaders from local health organizations, non-profits, treatment facilities and law enforcement agencies talked about the different ways they can combat the epidemic.

Some big takeaways were wanting to get school administrators and medical professionals involved in the conversation as well as arming local law enforcement with a second vile of the opioid antidote Naloxone.

One of those in attendance, Lori Ziolkowski, hopes she can touch people who think like she once did. 

"I, too, looked at that addict with a lot of stigma, 'Why are you being so dumb and using drugs? You shouldn't do that anymore.'" Ziolkowski said. "And I understand the medical component of it now, I understand how the brain works and that it becomes an obsessive compulsive disorder."

She's launching a local chapter of Families Against Narcotics to teach the community that addiction does not discriminate.

"It's people who are at your church, it's people who you work with, it's people in your neighborhood, it's people at your kids' school, it's everyone and we need to be more vocal and to let people know that it's a danger no matter what age you are, no matter where you live," Ziolkowski said.

For Ziolkowski and the rest of this group, they're dedicated to finding the antidote to this epidemic. They plan to meet once again on August 17.

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