GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A man who had three close friends die of heroin overdoses now works to help addicts by showing them how not to overdose.
Ottawa County detectives say there seems to have been an increase in heroin overdose deaths in the county in the last two years, even among affluent communities. Among those are two men found dead of suspected overdoses in the same Jamestown Township home in the last two months. Their friend is now suspected of providing them with the heroin.
Brandon Hool is a former heroin user. He has watched friends overdose.
"It was chaos," he recalled. "We were running around. We were arguing over if we should call 911 or not. And that shouldn't be a question -- should we call 911 when somebody's dying."
And he has overdosed himself. He can recall little about that night. About the only thing he does remember is waking up in the hospital. Even that wasn't enough to make him stop using.
"I wanted to leave and go do more drugs, but they wouldn't let me leave until I talked to a social worker," Hool said.
When he heard about the two recent suspected heroin overdoses at the Jamestown Township residence and the November suspected overdose of another of their friends, he shook his head.
"It's horrible," he said. "Three people. Three, you know? These are people's kids."
Hool has been sober three years. He is now the program manager at Clean Works in Grand Rapids, which is part of the RED Project, teaching drug users how to prevent and respond to an overdose.
Hool recognizes some might say he's just teaching drug users what to do after the fact rather than teaching them not to use heroin at all.
"That would be great if that worked. But that doesn't work," he said.
Clean Works says overdosing -- particularly on prescription drugs -- is the leading cause of accidental death in Kent County in people ages 21 to 65.
Between 2006 and 2010, 37 people in Kent County died of heroin overdoses alone.
A plan to build an outlet mall in Byron Township did not move forward as expected Monday, MLive is reporting.
A bill before the House would hold back third-grade students who are not proficient in reading.
Power lines blocked busy 28th Street near the Grand Rapids-Kentwood border Monday evening.