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Local law enforcement concerned about alarmingly high purity levels of heroin

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The purity of heroin is spiking to alarmingly high levels, causing overdoses in the Kalamazoo area.

But as Newschannel 3 found this week, the drug users are not who you might expect.

Police tell us a shocking number of teens are getting hooked on heroin.

Now a local mom is working to face the problem head-on, with these little black kits. Because for her, it hits close to home.

"I had to say goodbye to my daughter in a body bag and no parent should ever experience that," said Nancy King, President of the Southwest Michigan Chapter of Families Against Narcotics.

Her daughter, Marissa, would have been 25 on Friday. She died in 2012, after overdosing on heroin. Not who you'd expect to get hooked on the drug? Think again.

"They're usually middle and upper middle class kids and that's why a lot of parents miss it because they're like- my kid's not going to do heroin," said Captain David Boysen, with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.

Captain Boysen says local drug teams are seeing some scary trends. Teens as young as 14 are getting their hands on the drug. And purity is at an all-time high. 10 years ago, he says it was about 15-percent.

"Now we're seeing it 80-90 percent pure," Boysen said. "A lot of these kids that get hooked on heroin start with prescription narcotics in almost all the cases we've seen."

King says that's how Marissa's addiction started too. And at the time, their family couldn't track down the resources to battle it.

She recently started a Southwest Michigan chapter of Families Against Narcotics.

They are running courses like this, planning to distribute 2,500 narcan kits to the friends and families of addicts. An injection of naxolone reverses an overdose as its happening.

"There's a lot of shame, and we want to take that shame away so people can get help," Nancy said.

So parents, the solution starts with you.

If you have medications you no longer need, drop them off in one of these anonymous red boxes located at various police stations.

King hopes to break the cycle of silence and secrecy that often surrounds heroin use, encouraging both addicts and their loved ones to seek the help they need.

RedMed Boxes for safely and anonymously discarding medications are located at the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety headquarters, Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department, Kalamazoo Township Police Department and Schoolcraft Police Department.

The Families Against Narcotics (FAN) Southwest Michigan Chapter covers the following eight counties: Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren.

Monthly meetings are open to anyone, from addicts to family members to community advocates. Meetings take place the first Thursday of every month at 7pm at 635 Harrison Street in Kalamazoo, the second Tuesday of the month at 7pm at Crossroads Church (717 US-27 North) in Marshall or the third Thursday of the month at 7pm at Tryon School Community Center (910 East John Beers Road) in St. Joseph.

In order to obtain a Narcan kit, you should attend one of the following training sessions: Dec. 3rd at 7pm (635 Harrison Street in Kalamazoo), Dec. 8th at 7pm (Crossroads Church, 717 US-27 North in Marshall) or Dec. 17th at 7pm (Tryon School Community Center, 910 East John Beers Road in St. Joseph). If you cannot attend one of these sessions, one-on-one training is available (call 269-580-8290).

For more information on the Southwest Michigan Chapter of Families Against Narcotics, click here: You can also call 269-580-8290 or email

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For additional resources and education about prescription opioid and heroin, visit Not Even Once Southwest Michigan by clicking here:

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