In areas across the country, substance abuse has hit epidemic levels. While classic drugs of abuse, such as Cocaine and Methamphetamines, are still widely available, local officials are now also fighting a rise in Opiate use. Prescription painkillers, Heroin, Fentanyl, and similar substances have swept the nation, leaving behind a wake of destruction for addicts and their families.
Unfortunately, Michigan has not been immune to this substance abuse trend. In fact, between 1999 and 2002, there were only 271 Heroin-related deaths in Michigan, between 2010 and 2012, that number increased to 728. Though Big Rapids, Michigan is a relatively small city, it has not been left unharmed by drug and alcohol abuse.
About Big Rapids, Michigan
Despite its grandiose name, Big Rapids, Michigan is a relatively small city, holding a population of just over 10,000 and a total area of approximately 4.5 square miles. This does not mean, however, that Big Rapids has not had some notoriety. In fact, notwithstanding its small size, it has been named the seat of Mecosta County. The city has held this position since 1859, after being settled four years earlier in 1855. Big Rapids was finally incorporated as a city 10 years after it became the county seat, in 1869.
The city is also home to Ferris State University, which boasts many successful academic programs, as well as an NCAA Division I hockey team. The institution was founded in 1884 by Woodbridge Nathan Ferris, who went on to become governor of Michigan and a United States Senator. Since its beginnings in the late 1800’s, Ferris State University was proudly ahead of the curve, even accepting female students, which was largely unheard of at the time. Similarly, Big Rapids was the childhood home to Anna Howard Shaw, who was a major player in the fight for women’s suffrage. Today, Ferris is one of the top ten largest universities in Michigan and possesses an excellent student to teacher ratio.
Additionally, two state landmarks run through the city limits of Big Rapids, Michigan. First, the Muskegon River flows by Ferris State University before ending its trip in Lake Michigan. Second, Big Rapids is home to a portion of the 92 mile long Fred Meijer White Pine Trial, which is enjoyed by hikers, cyclists, and recreation enthusiasts alike.
Though Big Rapids, Michigan is a small area in comparison to other, more prominent Michigan cities, it has seen its fair share of substance abuse-related issues.
Substance Abuse Problems in Big Rapids
In the last year, hospitals and emergency rooms in the Big Rapids, Michigan area saw approximately 39 admissions for Heroin-related issues. This was followed, in descending order, by admissions for:
Notably, Opiate-related drugs, such as Heroin, OxyContin, and Percocet were in the top five for hospital and emergency room admissions. This trend has not only impacted Big Rapids, it has also swept across Mecosta County, Michigan, and the United States as a whole.
This devastating increase in Opiate abuse largely stems from over prescribing practices of physicians. Prescription painkillers were once touted as a relatively safe form of pain management. In an effort to keep patients comfortable, physicians began prescribing these pills at alarming rates. Unfortunately, many patients became addicted to the medication, which led them to seek the drugs through “doctor shopping” or on the streets. Additionally, many more individuals began using Opiate painkillers as a result of their wide availability (either on the streets or from a loved one’s medicine cabinet).
While addiction to prescription painkillers is deadly in and of itself, many are turning to cheaper and more potent Opiates, such as Heroin, when the pills become too expensive or they can no longer get a prescription. To supply the increasing demand for Opiates, including Heroin, dealers have made their way to Big Rapids from larger cities such as Detroit or Grand Rapids. Unfortunately, these drugs are often mixed with other, more lethal, substances such as Fentanyl. This is typically done without the knowledge of the user, therefore causing an increase in the overdose death rate.
To combat this growing epidemic, officials have implemented a Central Michigan Enforcement Team (CMET). The mission of CMET is to investigate Heroin trafficking in the Mecosta County area. It is currently run by the Michigan State Police Department with the assistance of the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Department. This task force comes at a time when Heroin-related deaths have more than doubled in Mecosta County since 2011.
As of early 2016, two bills were pending in the Michigan House and Senate, which would allow Michigan residents to obtain Naloxone without a prescription. Naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan, is the lifesaving antidote to an Opiate overdose. Proponents of these bills, labeled SB 778 and HB 5326, respectively, say that wide availability of the medication would be a step forward in the fight against Opiate abuse in Michigan.
Substance Abuse Resources in Big Rapids, Michigan
Despite its small town charm and the presence of a well-known university, residents of Big Rapids, Michigan still see the consequences of substance abuse, daily. If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, please feel free to contact us.
The area also has some other resources including:
Ten Sixteen Recovery Network in Big Rapids, MI
Nova Counseling Associates in Big Rapids, MI
Serenity Rehab in Grand Rapids, MI
A Forever Recovery in Battle Creek, MI
Additionally, to ensure that unused, expired, or unwanted prescription medications do not end up in the wrong hands, Michigan offers several resources for proper disposal of these pills. Proper disposal is also good for your local environment and water supply.
If you or a loved one are ready to beat addiction and substance abuse, please feel free to contact us, or one of the above-referenced treatment facilities, today. The sooner you call, the sooner you can get your life back on track.