"Break the Chains" raises heroin & opioid awareness with concert - WNEM TV 5

"Break the Chains" raises heroin & opioid awareness with concert

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ESSEXVILLE, MI (WNEM) -

Heroin and prescription opioid abuse continues to be a major problem across the nation and that includes right here in Mid-Michigan.

Garber High School in Bay County hosted a Break the Chains event to bring awareness to the problem.

“Well I’m a very non-traditional pastor,” said Dusty Ballard, the event organizer.

Ballard likes to think outside of the box.

That’s where his idea to throw an opioid awareness concert called Break the Chains came in.

“We just go to the point where we decided to do something about it,” Ballard said.

Dozens flocked to Essexville to hear the tunes of the second-day story band fill Garber High School’s gym.

But Tammy Burger from Midland said there’s a bigger reason she brought her 11-year-old son Zack.

“We wanted to support this organization,” Burger said. “We’ve had some family members that have passed away from addiction and it’s really hard so we just really want to try and break this and be able to help everyone and anyone that we can.”

Pastor Ballad is sick of seeing said this is a common story for people in Mid-Michigan. He said almost everyone has either a family member or friend that struggles with addiction especially because of the opioid epidemic.

“They need our help,” Ballard said. “They don’t need us to enable them or feel sorry for them, they need us to care enough to start taking action.”

To help take action, Pastor Ballard made the event an open and judgment-free zone.

He said talking about opioid abuse is the first step to real change.

For anyone needing help, the event offers direct access to local organizations.

Addiction and recovery specialists from the Bay County area were on hand with more information and programs.

Burgers said she hopes events like these raise awareness and that if even one life was saved, it was worth it.

“We care about family and friends and we just don’t want to see anybody else die over this,” Burger said.

From 1999 to 2016 more than 200,000 people died in the US from overdoses related to prescription opioids.

Deaths involving those drugs were five times higher in 2016 than 1999.

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