Kalkaska Leaders Host Forum to Discuss Fighting Opioid Crisis

Like many local communities in Northern Michigan, Kalkaska County struggles with opioid addiction, but access to care is scarce.

Monday night, the Sheriff’s Office, health professionals and Kalkaska leadership worked toward a critical, common goal: curbing opioid addiction.

For years, help has not been within reach. Those struggling with addiction to prescription drugs, fentanyl and heroin were isolated from care that only existed in places like Traverse City or Gaylord.

For Kalkaska Village President Harley Wales, access to care was “the number one thing” people asked him about while he was campaigning.

“A lot of people approached me saying ‘do anything you can to get a treatment center here,’” said Wales. “There’s just nothing within miles and miles.”

Last month, Life’s Work Clinic opened its doors. It’s Kalkaska’s very first opioid addiction treatment center.

The practitioners there administer buprenorphine, or suboxone therapy, which stabilizes the opioid withdrawal without impairment and it also has a blocker that prevents overdose if a patient relapses.

Suboxone is only available by qualified doctors, and there’s little access to care in rural areas. While Traverse City has plenty of providers, Kalkaska had none, until Life’s Work Clinic opened.

“This service right in the village of Kalkaska is a huge asset to not only the average citizen, but law enforcement services within the county,” said Kalkaska County sheriff Pat Whiteford.

Life’s Work Clinic has partnership with Sheriff Whiteford to get inmates treatment for addiction to opioids.

“When I started looking at why we’re sending inmates to the hospital, why we’re treating different sorts of things, it became evident that this all relates back, or a lot of it relates back, to drug use,” said Sheriff Whiteford.

It’s such a big problem that Kalkaska deputies as well as the county jail and courthouses now all carry Narcan.

Kalkaska County ranks within the top 5% nationally for Hepatitis C and HIV related to IV drug use.

Soon, a safe syringe program will be launched in Kalkaska as well.

“It has been approved for our county, our area it’s just a matter of getting the program launched,” said Wales. “I’m just really thankful to Life’s Work for coming to town, they’re going to help us deal with the problem we have here.”

Life’s Work Clinic is accepting new patients and has free overdose kits available.

Connect with them at lifesworkclinic.com or call (231) 620-7977. Their office is located near the Kalkaska Village post office. The address is 103 3rd St, Unit E, Kalkaska, Michigan 49646.

You can also find help and local resources at HarmReductionMI.org. Or you can email the addiction treatment group at info@harmreductionmi.org.