Progress has been made in the fight against opioid addiction but it’s evident more can be done to save lives. Tools like Naloxone—a nasal spray that can reverse an overdose—are now available to anyone and often at no cost. There’s an array of support groups and alternative options for helping those who are addicted work their way through the justice system, like Hope Not Handcuffs and county drug courts. But the reality is that, on average, more than five people die everyday in Michigan from overdoses and in the last five years more than 7,000 Michiganders fell victim to this epidemic.
The Michigan Opioids Task Force has announced their plans to bring those statistics down, specifically they’d like to cut opioid-related overdose deaths in half over the next five years. The task force formally outlined their first set of action plans last week. At the outset, they’d like to increase access to treatment for Medicaid recipients, launch treatment programs in state prisons and expand support for syringe service programs.
They’ve also pledged to devote $1 million for a media campaign that reduces the stigma associated with seeking addiction treatment. Getting people the help they need sooner rather than later can help prevent overdoses. It’s common for society to find fault with someone who misuses opioids but as Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said, its time to change the narrative from “criticism to compassion” and “helplessness to hopefulness.”
Saving lives from this awful condition isn’t just for the individual. Keeping families intact, employees on the job and the public safe is good for our communities’ bottom line and well being too.