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'The need is right now': Thirteen overdose deaths reported in Milwaukee since Friday

Posted at 8:19 AM, Jul 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-29 14:41:13-04

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office said Monday morning they responded to thirteen probable overdose deaths since Friday. Five of those deaths occurred within five hours of each other.

God Touch Milwaukee is an organization that combines faith with treatment to those struggling with addiction. Marty Calderon is the executive director. His mission is to minister and help as many lives as he can.

"My heart goes out to all the families because no one wakes up and says I want to be a drug addict or alcoholic," said Calderon. "We know there is some trauma in their life they are dealing with."

Thirteen men are taking part of the faith-based organization. The non-profit helps the men find work, and they typically stay in the program for six months to a year. During that time, they have counseling sessions to deal with trauma, bible study classes and meetings.

"I’ve seen the transformation in our home," said Calderon. "I have seen drug addicts, guys that are struggling that now are successful, so the need is right now."

Jonathan Martin has dealt with addiction and knows the struggle. He said it's heartbreaking to people have lost their lives due to addiction.

"They are risking their lives playing Russian Roulette with the addiction problems," said Martin. "They are suffering, but also people are collateral damage. It damages relationships with their children, family members and other people."

Martin was heavily involved in a gang and used to sell drugs. His life changed when he surrendered it all to Christ. He credits Marty and God Touch Milwaukee for showing him a better way. Now, he shares his story and helps mentor other men in the program.

"It blows my mind that drugs continue to flourish even though people are dying left and right and it breaks my heart to know I was once in that position," said Martin.

Martin wants others to know they can change their lives and overcome their addiction.

"We are dealing with such a powerful struggle right now, but there is hope," he said. "There is change, there is transformation, there is redemption. You don’t have to be stuck in that place. You can turn your life around and be somebody

Calderon hopes to partner with detox centers and hospitals in the future to provide a compressible long term treatment for men struggling with addiction.