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Drug deaths on the rise in Ingham County

Leaders across mid-Michigan took a stand today on an issue impacting all of greater Lansing, opioids.

LANSING, MI (WLNS) - Leaders across mid-Michigan took a stand today on an issue impacting all of greater Lansing, opioids.

Ingham County officials say on a national level, the number of deaths involving drugs have tripled from 2001 to 2014.

In just the past two years right here in Ingham County, that number of deaths has quadrupled.

Phil Pavona knows what it's like to lose a loved one

"He had a bright future, never expected that something like this would take his future away," Phil Pavona said as he speaks about his 25 year old son who died of a heroin overdose.

"On average we have at least one opioid related death in our community every week" Ingham county health officer Linda Vail said.

"People just don't know, they don't know that they live in a middle class neighborhood and the children, the child of their next door neighbor is addicted to heroin or maybe even prescription drugs." Linda Vail said.

According to the Lansing police department, in 2013 there were 6 drug related heroin overdoses and 1 fatality. In 2015 there were 138 overdoses and 26 fatalities in Lansing alone.

Of those overdoses, the victims were between 16 and 70 years old.

"Twenty-six fatalities that is more fatalities than a car accidents, or homicides in the city of Lansing" Chief Micheal Yankowski said of the Lansing police department.

According to Chief Yankowski, this is an issue the police department cant tackle themselves.

And in order to help save lives, they want people to turn themselves in without fear of getting in trouble.

"That if someone is addicted to heroin. They can come to the police department and ask for help. And we are going to get them that help without seeking charges or charging them for possession of heroin" Yankowski said.

As a parent who has lost his son, Phil Pavona said any family who struggles with addiction "ask for help".

"Every family tires to quietly handle this on their own, and they will not have success….without a community"

According to Pavona, resources are available, and having a community is the key to fighting against addictions

Officials say the best you can help is by disposing prescription drugs properly.

There are drop boxes at various police departments in the area.

And if you know someone who is abusing feel free to contact RISE 

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