BIRMINGHAM (WWJ) – Oakland County has issued an alert following a recent rise in heroin overdoses in the state — including in some of metro Detroit’s wealthiest neighborhoods.
The alert follows the recent deaths of two men in nearby Washtenaw County and the overdose of six others since the first of the year.
WWJ Newsradio 950’s Sandra McNeill spoke with Sadie Mansfield, who said the drug has become a dirty little secret in some of Detroit’s most affluent suburbs.
“In the wealthier areas, these young adults that have unlimited access to money from their parents or their wealthy families, up to a point, it is very easy to hide,” said Mansfield.
She grew up in tony Birmingham where she says she was surrounded by people using heroin.
“Well, I graduated in 2005, and in my senior years of high school and thereafter, it seems it has just turned into an epidemic,” Mansfield said. “Just about everybody I know has had become addicted to heroin. And I have lost so many people because of this terrible drug.”
Mansfield said four of her close friends and numerous acquaintances have died — including one just last month. ” … People who I went to high school with, who went to, not just Seaholm (High School), but to Groves … I swear, like overnight, all of my friends turned into heron addicts — every single one of them.”
The drug killed her sister at the age of 25.
“Losing my sister was the worst thing that has ever happened to me … and then now I think that it’s just anger,” Mansfield said. She said she’s angry to see friends who attended the funerals of others who overdosed, later wind up as users themselves.
Oakland County health officer Cathy Forezly said they issued the alert based on information from the state health department. However, a spokesperson from the Michigan Department of Community Health told WWJ they are unable to provide hard numbers.
The latest Michigan death was in Ypsilanti, where a 30-year-old man was taken off life support after he overdosed last week.
Last year, Dr. Gary Kunsman, chief forensic toxicologist, told the Oakland Press that three to five percent of all deaths that come to the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office were heroin-related.
Forezly said the cause of these recent heroin-related deaths is under investigation.