MARQUETTE, MI (WZMQ) – Addiction is a disease that impacts hundreds of people here in The U.P. Over the pandemic, felony drug cases were on the rise, but the pandemic has also brought a shift in focus on the recovery of those affected by addiction. Cassandra Cira is the out patient coordinator at the Great lakes recovery center and she says that with the increase in mental health issues and drug use, more and more people are reaching out for help.
“Most people have a friend, family member, or coworker that is struggling, there’s no specific population, addiction is a disease and it can happen to anybody. we need to start understanding that and welcoming the idea that anybody can be susceptible to it, and anybody can reach out for help right, it should be normalized.”– Cassandra Cira
Here in Marquette addiction and drug abuse has been a hot topic for years now. According to the national institute of drug abuse 20.4 million people were diagnosed with substance use disorders last year. Matt Wiese is the Marquette County Prosecutor, and he says they’ve seen the increase in drug abuse and trafficking in his office as well.
“methamphetamine has been a huge problem over the last 5 years and we saw our case number so up from double dodgers to triple disgust to last year we had 900 or more methamphetamine felony cases.”– Matt Wiese
The Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team said that the issue with many of these drugs is that the cost in The U.P.is higher than it is in larger cities like Chicago or Detroit, which motivated drug traffickers to travel to sell their product at a higher price. While the police are focused on prosecuting drug traffickers, for users and addicts the focus is on recovery.
“Our goal isn’t to arrest everybody, it’s to try to arrest those dealers who are trying to sell drugs across the upper peninsula and try to make sure that we get those users into a good program that helps them get off drugs and to live a healthy lifestyle.”– Det. Lt. Tim Sholander
Wiese says his office is working with law enforcement to form ways to help those affected by addiction, the county prosecutor office is working on a jail deferral program that would place people in treatment facilities, rather than sending them through the criminal justice system.
“There are treatment options available for those who are addicted to controlled substances and we actually would prefer that people go through that process instead of the criminal justice system.”– Matt Weise
Cira says she understands that it’s easy to label those you don’t know, but she hopes people will understand that these are everyday normal individuals who are struggling with addiction.
“When it comes down to it addiction doesn’t discriminate, and that is the difficult thing about that i think the world has created this identity for people who struggle with addiction and in reality it could be anybody”– Cassandra Cira
For information on more available resources, you can contact The Great Lakes Recovery Center to get help. https://www.greatlakesrecovery.org/