GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Families Against Narcotics is starting up a chapter in Grand Rapids after requests from families that need help with loved ones who are addicts. Public campaigns from law enforcement at every level warn of dangerous drugs and the overdoses that come with them. It’s an epidemic that isn’t new in West Michigan, but it’s not subsiding either.
One of the founders of FAN, Linda Davis, knows that the group can give addicts what they need to recover because of her own family’s painful experience with addiction.
Davis is a Macomb County judge who had what she describeS as the perfect daughter. “My daughter was a beautiful young girl, a straight-A student, an athlete. She was what every mother would want to have for a daughter. She was polite, she never broke curfew, she did all the right things."
But when Davis' daughter was 17 years old, she admitted she was addicted to heroin. That began a three-year nightmare of efforts to get her daughter clean. They moved through 11 rehab facilities, but her daughter relapsed time after time. Each facility cost $30,000 or more, which Davis knows most families cannot afford.
Davis made it her mission to come up with a realistic plan, so she started FAN, which now has 19 chapters in Michigan, the newest one in Grand Rapids.
She says expectations of recovery is a problem: “When we have cancer, we do chemo therapy radiation and then you go back for physical therapy sometimes, and you do all kinds of follow up visits to the doctor to make sure your cancer isn’t reoccurring. But with addiction we want to treat it one time and send you back home and think that you are going to make it and its unrealistic."
New data from the Kent County Health Department obtained by FOX 17 show 32 drug-related overdose deaths in just the last five months alone, with at least another 23 cases still awaiting lab results. Kent County isn’t alone, which is why FAN is crossing the state to get addicts the help they need.
FAN is also focused on the stigma that comes with addiction.
"We've always hidden addiction," said Davis. "It's always been the dirty little secret." That keeps families from getting the help they need.
So FAN offers hope. "There is hope addicts can get clean, and they can get better."
FAN will take three to four months to get up and running, but if you want to get involved or have a family member suffering from addiction, click here.