Unfortunately, drug abuse is still a prominent issue around the nation. It claims around 50,000 lives annually in the US, and these numbers are growing, thus the desperate need for more help. The group Family Against Narcotics (FAN) was founded in Fraser, Michigan in 2007. The organization was created to combat the epidemic of drug abuse in Macomb County and the surrounding area. The group is a coalition of members from the community coming from all walks of life; police officers, church members, families, and friends of drug users. FAN aims to erase the stigma associated with drug abuse and highlight it as an issue that requires help, not judgement. Stereotyping against addicts comes naturally for many. People often turn their heads away from addicts, choosing to view them as pathetic and worthless. In actuality, a large percentile of addicts are former veterans, scholars, and successful people who fall into dark times and turn to drugs as an escape from reality. The crisis of drug abuse is especially severe in Macomb County, where statistics show an alarming rate of overdoses.
The newest brainchild of FAN is the “Hope Not Handcuffs” initiative. This program allows people to bring their illegal substances into the police station and have them properly disposed of, and instead of jail time, the police help find a rehabilitation program for them. This further emphasises the message of drug abuse being an illness, rather than a lifestyle. Getting addicts the help they need is serious business. Some members of FAN are former addicts. To witness this complete 180 degree transformation of self, to come full-circle and go from addict to an aid in the recovery process for others, is a very eye-opening experience.
FAN is determined to help make a brighter future with less crime and tragedy, since drug-related offenses account for a significant percentage of crime. Taking damaged lives and leading them to a program that can put them on the path to wellness is something that is priority to FAN. Another benefit of “Hope Not Handcuffs” is the fact that it allows for the narcotics to be turned over to the police for termination; It gets them off of the streets. When the police or the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) confiscate narcotics, they typically do the same thing.
FAN isn’t the only organization like this. There are hundreds of similar groups across the nation. Community efforts are growing and the police are stepping up their game. There is more help available than ever for addicts and their families, in the hopes that one day, we won’t lose our loved ones to drugs.