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Combating synthetic drug use in michiana

NOW: Combating synthetic drug use in michiana

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A press conference was held by the “Not in Our Community” committee discussing synthetic analog drugs—their growing effect in our community and what is being done to stop them at the source.

The meeting was comprised of city council, church, school, hospital and outreach members all voicing their concerns in the growing numbers of addiction to these drugs comprised of everything but drugs themselves

We know the dangers of synthetic analog drugs, also known as synthetic marijuana, comes from diversity of concoctions in the world. Each strain of synthetic is different than the last because there is nothing planned about them. Generally, the chemicals added are what one could find around their home including windshield wiper fluid, rat poison, and other house hold items.

Beacon Health Systems shared statistics showing that visits to Memorial Hospital related to synthetic cannabis are drastically increasing annually from 2016. 

    2016- 981

    2017-1,277

    and to 2018 with 1,737 visits.

500 more than 2017, estimating to almost 5 visits a day. 

These dangers mixtures and numbers are exactly why the city and the South Bend Police Department are tightening their leash on any person or businesses that are even potentially a selling source for users. 

Chief Scott Ruszkowski was at the meeting, and voiced his concern about these "zombies" in the community. 

A user's potentially erratic behavior while on the drugs is a concern not only for the community, but for his police force as they combat the issues head on. The Chief described how users can either be completely still due to lack of control over their nervous and muscular systems or the exact opposite--when some users are volatile and dangerous with words and physical altercations. 

The Chief urged the community to voice what they know to their local law enforcement as they should with this and all other matters including gun violence.

Aside from those in the field combating the issue, there were speakers on the front lines voicing their testimonies to try and evoke change. 

Annice Carter, mother of 8, lost her son Anthony L Gorden in January of 2014, after he passed out in his kitchen due to his use of synthetics. 

Carter said that she knew this day would come if he could not curb his addiction--and after a scare earlier in 2013 that sent Gorden to the hospital, she thought her son was scared straight. However, just 2 months later, she said he was back on the synthetics which inevitably lead to his death. 

After loosing on of her babies, she told me that she shares her story so that other mothers, caretakers, and people in general can learn about synthetics and where resources for help are if needed. 

Two sources of help located at 333 North Main Street in down town South Bend, are the Recovery Cafe and the Upper Room Recovery Community. 

Both are located within the First United Methodist Church and are places where addicts and those recovering from addiction can come for camaraderie and help. 

The Recovery Cafe offers coffee (and sometimes bagels and donuts) Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 along with staffed recovery coaches. These coaches, like Ricky Mountsier, are outsourced coaches who are there to help people find employment, handle insurance, and to just be a listening ear if someone needs it. They offer coaching and support to those trying to take a step out of addiction. 

The Upper Room Recovery Community is also located at the Church. Their goal is to provide safe and stable transitional housing to adults in recovery from addictions and are trying to help move them toward a productive and independent life. 

I spoke with a few residents who say this place saved their life and without the helping hand of people who actually cared and some who had been in their shoes, it meant the world and was the enticement they need to get back on the straight and narrow. 

For more information the groups mission and people to talk to, visit upperroomrecovery.org 

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