WXYZ — Experts considered substance abuse a public health crisis long before the COVID-19 pandemic even began. Fast forward to October 2021, and the problem is growing -- with first-time users getting even younger.
Right here in Michigan, 30,000 teenagers meet the criteria for substance abuse. That's according to the latest data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Even more unsettling? The federal agency says only about 2,000 of those teenagers are enrolled in treatment.
And as abuse of any kind goes -- many try to hide the obstacles they're facing, at least at first -- which means the real numbers are likely even higher.
"We want to talk about awareness ... also look at reducing stigma and providing hope. We have three people on our panel who have personal stories," explained Anthony Muller, Vice President of Substance Use Disorder Services at Samaritas.
On Monday, October 11, Samaritas is honoring Substance Abuse Prevention Month with a virtual conversation about the causes and consequences of excessive use of drugs.
Detroit Red Wings announcer Ken Daniels will help lead the discussion. Daniels lost his own son to an opioid overdose in December 2016.
Jamie Daniels was only 23-years-old when he passed away in his sleep.
"Memories of Jamie are now, sadly, and tragically linked to his experience with addiction. He should be remembered for the loving, kind and funny kid he was and his huge heart. Jamie would do anything to help anyone. He was an incredible son, a protective big brother and best friend to his sister, Arlyn and he was a loyal friend."
The heartfelt tribute comes from Jamie's mother, Lisa Daniels-Goldman. You can learn more about Jamie's journey and the foundation launched in his honor to make a difference for others.
Ken Daniels will be joined by a panel of experts for a one-hour virtual conversation, starting at 11:30am on October 11. The discussion will take place over Zoom. You don't have to have your camera on, nor do you have to actively participate; you can simply listen if you prefer.
Registration and attendance are free -- and the information you learn could help change a life.