By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – The Lincoln Park Police Department was honored Sept. 24 with the inaugural Community Addiction Recovery Excellence Hero Award for its life-saving actions in preventing opioid overdose deaths with Narcan intervention.
The award, presented at the third annual Reality of Recovery Community Forum, held at Wayne County Community College District Downriver campus in Taylor, was presented by Darlene Owens, director of Substance Use Disorders Initiatives for the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority, and Susan Kozak, executive director, Community Care Services, to Lincoln Park Police Chief Raymond Watters.
The annual event is a free public forum that offers insights into substance abuse and addiction, and shares information about treatment options, recovery and support.
Kozak said that from 2013 to 2015, Lincoln Park had 97 deaths attributed to opioid overdoses, which was at that time the highest death rate for overdoses in the state. She said city officials did not ignore the statistics, and sought instead to stop the loss of life from the opioid overdose.
Kozak said that each life brought back from the brink of overdosing is another opportunity to get a person into a recovery program.
“I was so impressed with our police force when I learned that they had saved at least 22 lives last year, the second highest of any city in Wayne County,” she said.
Kozak said first responders in the city are doing everything they can to stop the loss of life from what she calls “a massive epidemic.”
“We don’t often think about how difficult it must be for our police and other first responders to continuously be facing life and death when responding to a drug overdose,” she said. “There aren’t often opportunities to thank and recognize those who contribute so much to the community, so we created the CARE award to do just that, and it was fitting to honor our Lincoln Park police force with the inaugural award.”
Community Care Services, a non-profit with more than 30 years of service, based in Lincoln Park, specializes in the treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders, and annually helps more than 4,000 local people and their families.
For more information about CCS, go to commcareserv.org.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)