FAN celebrates launch of local chapter

Families Against Narcotics partners with local law enforcement agencies to provide substance use recovery options through Hope Not Handcuffs and Quick Response Team
The Crawford County Chapter of Families Against Narcotics celebrated its official launch with a gathering in the city park on Thursday, June 10, but the group’s efforts to help people with substance use issues started weeks ago with the establishment of local Hope Not Handcuffs and Comeback Quick Response Team programs.
The Hope Not Handcuffs initiative allows people seeking recovery for a substance use issue the option to stop by a participating police station to seek help.
“Hope Not Handcuffs brings law enforcement and community organizations together to find treatment options for individuals seeking help to reduce dependency on any drug, including heroin, prescription medications, and alcohol,” according to Families Against Narcotics. “A person struggling with substance use disorder can walk into any participating police department or community partner to ask for help. A volunteer ‘angel’ will be called to help with paperwork and phone calls and to provide support until a treatment option is found. All participants and their families will be offered the services of a recovery coach. There is no charge for any of these services.”
“There’s no questions asked. You’re not going to get arrested,” according to Families Against Narcotics officials. “We will find recovery for you.”
People can also contact Hope Not Handcuffs 24/7 via telephone at 833.202.4673 to seek help or visit the program’s website at www.hopenothandcuffs.com.
The Comeback Quick Response Team program allows police – along with two recovery coaches – to visit the homes of people who have recently survived a drug overdose and offer them and their families recovery assistance.
“Comeback aims to assist survivors of drug overdoses. Within days of a person experiencing a non-fatal drug overdose, a Quick Response Team – comprised of a police officer, a peer recovery coach, and a family recovery coach – will perform a post-overdose wellness check to offer the individual the help and resources they deserve,” according to Families Against Narcotics. 
“If you have a loved one that has overdosed we respond to the home where the overdose took place within a 72-hour period of time,” according to Families Against Narcotics officials. “There are studies that show that’s when people start thinking ‘oh my God, I almost died a couple days ago,’ and you may have that window of opportunity.”
The City of Grayling Police Department and the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department have partnered with Families Against Narcotics to participate in both Hope Not Handcuffs and the Quick Response Team programs.
Undersheriff Ryan Swope said the programs are good additions to the department.
“The Crawford County Sheriff's Office has been working with Grayling Public Safety and QRT for several weeks now.  We have been able to help several Crawford County residents with (substance use) disorder and get them into treatment. Hope Not Handcuffs along with QRT has been a great program that allows our office to assist the community in a way we have never been able to,” Undersheriff Swope said.
Colin Hunter, 46th Circuit Court Judge and president of the Crawford County Families Against Narcotics Chapter board, said the local Hope Not Handcuffs program has not had a large amount of participation so far but he thinks it will gather momentum as more people learn about the existence of the initiative.
“I think once we get a little more involved it will have a snowball effect,” Judge Hunter said. “It’s really just getting the actual word out. It’s about being able to remove that stigma of addiction.”
Ruth Pilon, local coordinator for Hope Not Handcuffs and the Comeback Quick Response Team, said the Hope Not Handcuffs program in Crawford County is currently looking for more volunteers.
“We need more angels,” Pilon said. “We have more recruiting to do.”
Pilon said the program “is supposed to have about 25” angels and it only has five or six right now.
People can sign up to serve as an angel through the Families Against Narcotics website at www.familiesagainstnarcotics.org. Use the dropdown menu to go from “Opportunities” to “Become An Angel” and then fill out the online form and choose a training session.
Pilon said the local Quick Response Team “is going well” and it’s already expanded from a focus on overdose survivors to anyone with a substance use issue. She said family members or friends can request a visit from the team for someone who may need recovery help.
“We would take referrals for sure,” Pilon said. “We know there’s a big problem here but we haven’t been able to get in touch with the people who need us.”
More information on the Quick Response Team program is available online at www.comebackqrt.com. Pilon said people can call 833.202.4673 and then be connected to local resources.
Judge Linda Davis, Families Against Narcotics Executive Director, served as the keynote speaker for Thursday’s Crawford County Chapter of Families Against Narcotics launch event. She spoke about how her attitude toward people with substance use issues changed drastically after a young family member suffered an injury, took prescribed painkillers, became addicted, and moved on to heroin.
Judge Davis described the lack of treatment options at the time and difficulty of trying to navigate through the process.
“I really feel like we need more education, constant education about addiction. If we’re really going to change minds we need to be in the public every day talking about addiction as a disease,” Judge Davis said during the June 10 event. “We need our police officers doing that, and I really applaud the police up here in Grayling and in Gaylord for right away jumping on board and saying ‘hey, we’ll participate in Hope Not Handcuffs, we want to do QRT,’ and they launched those before they even got the chapter going, which is backwards from what we normally do, but they’re ready and they want to be out in the community serving the public and doing what’s right and getting people into treatment.”
Judge Davis said the United States loses “185 people a day to overdoses.”
“I won’t be happy with this country until we are treating people with substance use disorders the same way we treat people with cancer, the same way we treat people with diabetes, the same way we treat people who have COVID,” Judge Davis said. “We should not accept anything less than that. All the professionals tell us this is a disease but we keep treating it like it’s a moral failing, so it’s no wonder that the general public doesn’t see this as a disease, and they won’t until we start putting the same resources into treating people with substance use disorder that we do with other diseases.”
Judge Hunter said the June 10 Families Against Narcotics launch event “went pretty well.”
“It was a decent turnout,” Judge Hunter said.
“I think it went really well,” said Lynda Rutkowski of Up North Prevention and Families Against Narcotics. “Judge Davis is an excellent speaker and her story is phenomenal.”
Rutkowski said the Crawford County Chapter of Families Against Narcotics will be conducting public educational forums on the second Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. at the St. Francis Church. Hope Not Handcuffs is the scheduled topic of discussion for the July presentation, Rutkowski said.

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806
E-Mail: information@crawfordcountyavalanche.com

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