Town Hall Meeting: Addressing Addiction

I. Welcome - Barbara  Lee VanHorrsen

II. Mental Illness Task Force Update - Barbara Lee VanHorrsen

a. Current Support Groups Running: Parents/Guardians of Pre-teens and Teenagers & Family Members, Caregivers and Loved Ones of Individuals with Mental Illness

b. Training's: Continue to promote QPR Training and Mental Health First Aid 

c. Momentum Center for Social Engagement: Open and running 

III. Panel Presentation with Q & A

a. Sergeant Derek Gerencer: Spent 12 years in sheriff’s office and was undercover for 2.5 years.  Throughout his 6 years of  working for Grand Haven, saw more narcotic cases than anything else (along with cigarettes, marijuana, prescription pills).  the issue of prescription pills is spread all over the county.  Drug dealers are taking advantage of people who have addiction problems.  Some proactive measures being taken include: education on substance abuse, resource officer in every school, mentoring, Raise your voice (high school students go to middle school students, middle school students go to elementary school students) local events with medication drop off points, town hall meetings, grants and  NARCAN to every deputy.

b. Jonathon LaMaire: Red Project educates and trains people on how to use the Naloxone kits.  Addiction is a disease.  We should be looking at approaches of how to handle discipline for those with struggling with addiction.  People who are released from jail are 12 times more likely to overdose after being release from jail (due to having a low tolerance).  In 2001, Portugal decriminalized drug use when deaths reached 100.  Five years later, the decreased the number of deaths to 12.

c. Judge Bunce: Operates the Sobriety Treatment Court Team which gives people the option of seeking treatment for substance use or going to jail.  Working on a sobriety kick off in Holland (a team approach to those with addiction).  There is a Specialty Court, which is a mental health treatment court in Holland.  This program is for people suffering with a mental illness and involved in crime.  This programs provides assistance and builds family support.  Drug Program is receiving extra funding to make 2 programs (1 drunk driving 3rd offense conviction and other drug additions).  There will be more specialized care and it will double the size of how many people they can treat.

d. Dan Qualls: Addiction therapist who began working in the field at an attempt to avoid his addictions.  Grew up in addicted family.  People with Opioid addiction and who are in treatment, need more than 30 days to detox.  The individuals need to be willing to be in a group setting and be involved family during treatment.  Therapists need to help create expectations with family members of people with addictions.  There is a need for supports for opioid addictions in group therapy.

e. Priscilla Shafor: Works with Adult Drug Court as a recovery coach to help remove barriers in Ottawa county (place to live, mission, job, transportation, healthcare, state ID, driver's license, money, financial issues, legal assistance, etc.).  Some people say Alcohol Anonymous is a 12 step concept that is affiliated with religion.  Some support groups include: Alcohol Anonymous, Narcotic Anonymous, Couples, Life Recovery and All Recovery.  One current issue is with transportation- the Harbor Transit only runs so far and for so long.  Helps take participants to medical appointments and legal appointments. 

f. Dr. Sandy Dettmann: Works as a Medical Director.  Prescriptions are the main cause of addiction- US has 4.4 billion cases with 80-90% opioid distribution.  Drug overdose is the leading cause of death in people under the age of 50.  There are 82.3% of heroin uses who started with prescriptions.  Addiction is a disease.  Here is an example of how easy it is to get addicted: 17 year old girl affluent school, parents are judges, honor society, great future, has to get wisdom teeth out, 40 Norco, takes it as directed, child is predisposed to addiction, runs out and keeps refilling the prescription, no more pain so doctor ends prescription, opioid withdrawal, looks for drugs elsewhere, can’t find opioids so starts heroin.  The bad decision was listening to the doctor and continuing to take the prescription.  Some ways to stop this: doctor's prescribe less, earlier referral to pain management specialist before they come dependent, increase availability of life saving drug (Red Project), teach patients to protect themselves against prescriptions.  The cure for addiction involves community, reducing the stigma and finding people to help.

h. Questions/Comments 

i. How would you direct attorneys to recommend people?

GH attorneys should know about the program, Judge Bunce asks his staff to review all cases to see if someone is appropriate for program, sometimes program is full and can’t accept anymore individuals. 

ii. When a patient goes into the doctor's office and notifies of addiction, is there a way to code for prescriptions?

Dr. Dettmann- MAPS (Michigan Automated Prescription System)- identifies any prescriptions or controlled substance patient has received in the past years, need more physicians to use it, code for opioid dependencies, alcohol dependencies

iii.Is there a way for someone in jail to go through sobriety court?

If they are awaiting a sentence, you can bring it to their probation officer.  If filling a sentence, there is no lawful right to change the sentence, would need to wait.

IV. Small Group

a. Myths and stereotypes about addiction:

You can stop it yourself, they are fulfilling a need and they are good people, it’s a lifestyle, they can stop at any time

b. Role of Addiction in your life

c. What is being done/needs to be done?

Employment, transportation, sober living houses

V. What Needs to be done?

o   Living space

o   GH shelter- Love in Action, Harbor Hall

o   Paying Court- Collections program, volunteer service

o   Reintroduce education in schools- TeaM (teaching educating and mentoring in schools) internet safety, home safety, incoming freshman to do orientation w/ parents, Talk Sooner

o   Support groups in GH area (Non-AA) à SMART Recovery, Online 12-step program

o   Transportation to support groups/resources/jobs/court

o   Drug Treatment court- Expanding to 55 participants

o   Ottawa County detox places

o   Walk in facilities/angels program, OAR

o   Continual trainings/mental health first aid- Continue town hall meetings, qpr, etc

o   Momentum Center- Will host support groups

o   Sobriety houses- houses in Holland

o   Employment options

o   Alternative holistic medicine

o   Parent education

o   Limited programs for immediate Inpatient/outpatient-Holland

o   Peer to peer support specialists

o   Enabler Education




Town Hall Meeting on Alternative Treatments and Therapies 


Sandy Parker- On the Path Yoga

"Healing comes from within" 

"Western medicine treats symptoms. Not all trauma is verbal, so we reach into your flesh. (yoga is great because) you get to have others by your side going through things as well." 

"Mind and body should never be separated, they are always together, so we should treat them together." 

Sandy emphasized meditation, and having a somatic experience. She also talked about moving your brain with breathing. 


Dr. Weiss- Weiss  Chiropractic 

"Find (alternative therapy) you enjoy." 

"(alternative therapy) allows for less medicine to be taken." 

"We put you in the position to begin healing- you have to heal yourself."


Dr. Gary Cool- Acupuncturist, Homeopath, Herbalist  

He brought in a physical demonstration on how acupuncture in your ear can cure addiction. 

"Medicine can only do so much for viruses, acupuncture can help a lot more."

"Trust your DNA, add motion, watch your words, eat cilantro,  study Wolf's Law (reordering of balance)"


Monica Verplank- North Ottawa Wellness Foundation

"Pause, process, proceed. Take 5 deep breathes and ask yourself what is really happening." 

"learn to be more self aware and more present" 


Rebecca Neil- Holistic Medicine/Massage Therapist 

Taught us about flotation therapy. 

"Learn to advocate for yourself, through any of these practices- be the driver of your mental health." 

"You cannot pour for an empty cup"

Town Hall Meeting:  Addressing the Intersection of Mental Illness and Criminal Justice


I.                     Welcome – Barbara Lee VanHorssen

II.                  Mental Illness Task Force Update - Barbara Lee VanHorssen

a.        Clinical Team:  NOCH is talking with Pine Rest about the expansion of their psychiatric and residency program.

b.       School System:  GH and SL staff have all been trained in QPR.  TCM and Bethany are continuing to provide counseling at the schools.

c.        Judicial System:  CMH is increasing staffing at the jail including a clinician and prescriber.  Mental Health Court received a block grant to increase staffing.  The Red Project continues to provide Naloxone trainings.

III.                Panel Presentation with Q & A

a.        Judge Knoll:  Worked to develop a Mental Health Court after identifying there was a problem where people were ending up in court that are in need of mental health treatment.  The Court tries to address areas of concern such as housing concerns, medications, therapeutic treatment and other psychosocial concerns.  Works to get probationers involved in their treatment and help people return to society without as many barriers in place and helps to prepare people for life after probation. 

b.       Judge Hoopes:  Operates a Mental Health Court in Muskegon, 60th District Court.  Learned about Mental Health Court 8 years ago through the National Judicial College and visited several Mental Health Courts around the state of Colorado.  The Mental Health Court is able to work with about 20 people at a time and have two CMH employees designated to work with the Court.  They have recently started group counseling for the men and women participating in the Mental Health Court.

c.        Judge Bunce:  Operates the Sobriety Treatment Court Team which gives people the option of seeking treatment for substance use or going to jail.  One of the things this court is able to do is monitor probationers who are pregnant and ensure they are not using during their pregnancy.

d.       Kelly Boeve:  Works for CMHOC and began working at the jail to provide crisis intervention for inmates including suicide assessments.  Coordinates jail diversion to get people who are in a mental health crisis to get admitted to the hospital instead of staying at the prison.  Conducts diagnostic assessments at the jail for the courts and provides a recommended treatment level to the Judges.  Works with the Mental Health Court to work with probationers to address their mental health concerns and keep them out of jail.

e.        Sandi Metcalf:  Juvenile Justice Vision 20/20 president and they have created a strategic plan to address juvenile justice issues.  The group wants to ensure Juvenile Courts continue and that they are addressing the needs of kids in the community who are delinquent.  Juvenile Court is the first specialty treatment court.  Oversees the Juvenile Court and this court offers a full continuum of services to assist kids with accessing the necessary treatment and services to live more stable lives.

f.        Doug Tjapkes:  Works for Humanity for Prisoners (HfP) that is an agency that works 1 on 1 with prisoners in MI.  HfP documents and seeks correction for abuses in the prison system of prisoners who are mentally ill.  HfP is advocating for prisoners, but would also like to see the employees at the prisons get trained in how to respond to someone who has a mental illness.

g.       Jonathan LaMire:  The Red Project works with people who have HIV or Hep C, educates people about the overdose epidemic and trains people on how to use the Naloxone kits.  Shared a personal story about working with the Drug Court and the issues someone faces when participating in the Court system

h.       Questions/Comments: 

                                                               i.      There is one other disease treated as a criminal offense and that would be persons with mental illness.

                                                             ii.      Q for Jonathan L.  I have a friend who has been dried out several times from alcohol.  Last time seen he had been sober and living on the other side of the state for several weeks.  When he returned to the area he hung out with friends and began drinking again.  Why was this person given no alternatives to take the place of alcohol such as finding new friends or other ways to avoid alcohol.  Should people be kept on a work farm until they are farther along in their treatment? 

1.       Answer:  Jonathan believes society should spend more money and effort on trying to deal with the disease of addiction instead of using the legal system to treat it.  Increase the amount of support groups that are available for people and helping people build strong support systems. 

2.        Answer:  Judge Knoll tries to give people who are struggling with addiction issues a choice on how they are going to live their lives.  While in the criminal justice system he works to enforce abstinence to help people learn how to live a sober life.  Wants to work with people to discuss the various programs that are available to assist people with maintaining their sobriety.

3.       Answer:  Judge Hoopes thinks looking at the root of the problem is helpful and the criminal justice system should look at the root cause of someone’s substance use or mental health concerns.

4.       Answer:  At the Juvenile Court they work to address the issues that may be leading a youth to begin experimenting or using drugs/alcohol.  They will work with families to try to address the root cause of the problem. 

                                                           iii.      Q How is the criminal justice system working with kids who have faced trauma in their lives.

1.       Answer:  Judge Hoopes understands that trauma is an issue for children and it is difficult to hear the stories about abuse and trauma the kids face.  Society is ignoring the level of poverty that is happening and needs to be addressed.  It is difficult as a Judge to hear the stories of people who are not connected with their families and lack a support system.

2.       Answer:  Judge Bunce works with people who are 17+ and they see the after effects of children who have face trauma in their lives.  The Sobriety Court often sees people with PTSD and works to refer them to the appropriate service providers.

IV.                Candidate Panel

a.        Vern Helder District Court Judge Candidate:  58th District Court does not have a mental health or sobriety court, but would be interested in starting a program at that court.  Understands that people who have mental health concerns need them addressed, but we also need to protect society.  Has a child diagnosed with OCD who has been receiving treatment and is successfully completing a Master’s degree.

b.       Judy Mulder District Court Judge Candidate:  As a health care professional Judy taught nurses about psychiatric treatment.   Serves on the 20th District Court Drug Court panel.  Believes we need to make society safer by reducing recidivism rates and addressing the problems of substance use treatment.  Would like to start a mental health court or drug treatment court at the 58th District Court.  Has a desire to treat the whole person and not just punishing but addressing the problem.

c.        Greg Vanwoerkom Rep. Bill Husienga’s Office:  There are 112 federal programs that deal with mental health issues.  Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act recently passed and this legislation will increase the amount of psychiatric beds available and will be working to address the Medicaid funding issues on where someone is able to get treatment.  This legislation will also help increase the amount of evidence based treatment practices are available to providers.  We are seeing the devastation of youth suicide in our area and this needs to be addressed by coming together as a community.  Currently working on legislation that would give Veteran’s access to crisis hotlines that have a live person answering.  Judges need to be allowed to get people who are in their courts to the right treatment options.

d.       Dennis Murphy US House Congressional Candidate:  Understands the struggle to connect people with substance use treatment because he has a family member who has struggled to be able to access treatment in a facility.  Is supportive of the President’s proposed budget with funds targeted towards addressing mental health concerns and substance use disorders. 

e.        Tim Meyer MI House Congressional Candidate:  Believes that our values should be heard in Lansing and the dollars supporting issues we care about in Ottawa County should be funded such as mental health.

f.        Dan Martin Circuit Court Judge Candidate:  There are not enough accommodations made in Courts for people who have mental health concerns.  We need to understand that a person should not be punished because of their disability, but should receive the treatment they need.  Looking at using the sequential intercept model (see handout) to address people who have mental health concerns in the criminal justice system.  We need to train law enforcement in crisis response training to work better with people who have mental health concerns.  Need to address re-entry after leaving the jail system and how to develop support systems for people.

g.       Karen Meidema Circuit Court Judge Candidate:  Need to address the youth suicide problem happening in Ottawa County and figure out why this is happening.  Works with the Sobriety Treatment Court and can approve people to participate in the program and has seen how people get vested in the program.  Participating on the Prescription Drugs and Opiates Task Force.

h.       Questions/Comments: 

                                                               i.      CMHOC is looking at large Medicaid reductions which led to the passing of the Mental Health Mission.  Does not understand why Ottawa is receiving cuts when there are large amounts of Medicaid dollars in Michigan.  Can you commit today to do everything in your power to restore the lost Medicaid funds to Ottawa County?

1.       Dennis Murphy:  Supports Obama Care and thinks the law may need to be tweaked to address the issues.

2.       Greg VanWoerkom:  The state is trying to streamline services and some internal politics have created some deficiencies.  The community supported the Mental Health Millage after identifying there was a way to fund it locally.  Need to address the issues of poverty in the country.  Visit

3.       Tim Meyer:  Would advocate for more funds for Ottawa County.  Need to fund social services to address areas of concern in Ottawa County.

                                                             ii.      Ottawa County has historically had great collaboration of the Courts with other programs and service providers.  The current grant process is difficult for the Courts to work with.  There are heavy reporting requirements and at times the turnaround time to submit a grant is very short and difficult for the Courts to react to.  Will the legislature ensure that funding will continue for the Courts and the programs offered.

                                                           iii.      Will Medicaid regulations be addressed for children who are in the Juvenile Justice System?  When kids are involved in the system their Medicaid stops when they are in the detention center.  There is a lack of psychiatric beds for children in the state of Michigan which needs to be addressed.

1.       Greg VanWoerkom:  They are working on legislation to address mental health, but not sure if it is addressing the Medicaid issues.  Maybe something could be put in the Medicaid waiver to address the issue.