WMU to host opioid crisis summit in GR Tuesday

(File photo, David K/Flickr Commons)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Public health leaders will gather in Grand Rapids Tuesday to address the opioid crisis gripping Michigan.

Michigan ranks 10th nationally per capita for opioid-based prescriptions, and 18th for the number of overdose deaths, Target 8 found.

“There is no easy solution, but we are overdue for one, particularly in Michigan,” said former U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles, who will be a keynote speaker at Tuesday’s summit.

Miles said in 2012 and 2013, the epidemic started with prescription drug abuse. When those prescriptions ran out, addicts chased the same high with heroin.

“It’s progression and it’s affecting every segment of our society – rich, poor, urban, rural, suburban. And it needs a real comprehensive approach to solve it,” Miles said.

Miles said the solution to curbing the opioid abuse epidemic must be three-fold.

“The Department of Justice, under President Obama, we looked at prevention, treatment and prosecution to address this problem, and I hope that continues under this administration,” he said.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
Pills fill a disposal bag for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

Miles said everyone can help by properly disposing of prescription drugs at designated drop-off sites. He said Michigan also needs to follow Ohio’s example and set up a comprehensive information sharing system between health care workers and authorities.

“So then you know where the pockets of these outbreaks are for overdoses and batches and then law enforcement can target that area, and treatment can be deployed to go help people in those communities,” explained Miles.

The WMU-Grand Rapids summit “Addressing the Michigan Opioid Crisis” will take place Tuesday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at WMU’s regional location at 2333 E. Beltline SE. The diverse panel of speakers will include health care leaders, officers, support groups and a recovering addict.

While the conference is full, those interested in listening should email mary.ogle@wmich.edu for access to the video link.