Health official: Fentanyl-heroin bust not shocking

Southwest Michigan

MARSHALL TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Battle Creek woman was arrested Tuesday after authorities say they found her with $12,500 worth of fentanyl-laced heroin.

The Southwest Enforcement Team, a multiagency drug task force, says it got a tip about drugs being delivered to the Battle Creek area. Around 5 p.m., an assisting Michigan State Police trooper pulled over the suspect’s vehicle on I-94 near Marshall. With the help of his dog, the trooper discovered about 4 ounces of heroin laced with fentanyl, SWET says.

“It does not shock me because Calhoun County is in the midst of a fentanyl-driven opioid overdose epidemic,” William Nettleton, the medical director of the Calhoun County Public Health Department, said Wednesday.

He said the stigmas surrounding the epidemic and those that use illegal drugs only makes the problem worse.

“It breaks my heart to hear people who use drugs say that ‘I’m uncomfortable speaking to my doctor about this,’” Nettleton said. “’I’m uncomfortable seeking care. I’m uncomfortable speaking to my friends and family about what’s happening in my life.’ That’s going to make them less likely to seek help.”

The mixture of fentanyl and heroin is deadly. Nettleton says just an ounce is enough to kill.

“The month that I started being the medical director in January of 2017, we had eight fentanyl-related deaths occur in a period of 23 days,” Nettleton said. “That’s remarkable. It’s hard for me to think of any other health-related event that is that severe.”

Detective Lt. Jim Lass of SWET hopes drug users know just how potent the mixture can be.

“Fentanyl is about 50 times more potent than what heroin would be,” Lass said. “If you take just a packet of sugar that you put in your cup of coffee, it’s got 4 grams of sugar, roughly, in it. You get one gram, then divide that down to two milligrams of fentanyl, that amount of size is fatal.”

Nettleton and other Calhoun County officials have set up spaces where drug users and addicts can come and receive help for free.

“A great resource for our community is the Summit Pointe Recovery Center located in Battle Creek. People can come and be with a peer coach, someone who’s going through addiction and meet them where they’re at,” Nettleton said. “We’ll get you, drive you to the recovery center 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get the help that you need. Our community cares about people who use drugs.”

Lass said that approach, along with taking the drugs off the street, will lead to a healthier, safer community.

“Having the public social services with the programs to get help for those that are addicted is critical,” Lass said. “So getting that help, getting the customer base away from the dealers, helps us.”

The driver busted Tuesday was arrested and taken to the Calhoun County jail. She faces a charge of possessing a controlled substance with the intent to deliver. Authorities are withholding her name until she’s arraigned. SWET says the investigation is ongoing.

For more information on how you can get help with drug abuse, you can check out the Calhoun County Public Health Department’s website or Summit Pointe’s website.

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