Standing together to combat prescription drug and opioid abuse

Ten and 18. These numbers represent how Michigan ranks nationally in per capita prescribing rates of opioid pain relievers and overdose deaths.

These sobering statistics reveal just how real the prescription drug and opioid epidemic is here in Michigan and how critical it is that we address it.

This week, Gov. Snyder created the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Commission, to continue the work of the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force chaired by LG Calley, with the goal of preventing Michiganders from becoming addicted and provide adequate care for those already struggling with addiction.

Efforts to address addiction have strong support from the Legislature, which moved up a budget request to replace or update the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) that will help the state get a better handle on what drugs and being prescribed in our state. The $2.47 million for this update will be available as soon as Gov. Snyder signs the budget. Getting a new system in place is a cornerstone to addressing prescription drug and opioid abuse in our state.

The new commission will monitor indicators of controlled substance abuse and diversion in the state, as well as make recommendations for actions involving prevention, treatment, regulation, policy and outcomes, and enforcement. The group also will review the task force recommendations and focus on strategies for implementing an action plan.

Working together to address addiction is already making a difference. Four months ago, the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority began training local law enforcement on using naloxone, the antidote for an opioid overdose. In that short timeframe, Michigan State Police troopers have saved two lives.

In addition, there are several bills to address this epidemic moving through the Legislature, including a bill that was recently approved by the House that allows people of all ages to report a possible overdose without fear of criminal penalties. Efforts like this are key steps in helping us address this epidemic in Michigan.

Together, with a united voice, we are taking steps to address this issue and ensure the health and safety of all Michiganders.

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