LANSING, MI – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today joined attorneys general from 37 states and the District of Columbia to urge the Committees on the Judiciary for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to pass legislation designed to help states more effectively confront the growing challenge of heroin and opioid abuse and addiction.
“We cannot have a complete and full economic recovery in Michigan unless we confront the escalating epidemic of drug abuse and addiction,” said Schuette. “Combating this growing crisis begins with a foundation of education, dedication of resources and collaboration among policymakers, law enforcement, medical providers and citizens in communities across our state. Taking comprehensive action together, we can reverse the public health and public safety threat of heroin and prescription drug abuse to break the cycle of addiction.”
Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force
In June 2015, Governor Snyder created the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force to address the growing prescription drug and opioid problem statewide. Schuette chairs the Task Force subcommittee on Regulation, Enforcement, and Policy. The bipartisan task force will examine the recent trends, evaluate strategic options, and develop a statewide action plan. The Fiscal Year 2016 budget includes $1.5 million to address statewide concerns on this issue.
Heroin and Opioid Addiction, Abuse: A National Epidemic
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses now surpass automobile accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death for Americans between the ages of 25 and 64. More than 100 Americans die as a result of overdose every day with more than half of those deaths resulting from prescription drugs or heroin overdoses.
In their letter to Congress, the attorneys general write,
“Law enforcement has always been on the frontline when it comes to drug crises, but we cannot arrest ourselves out of this current epidemic. Research shows the best way to address this challenge is though a strategy that includes prevention, law enforcement, reduction of overdose deaths, evidence-based treatment, and support for those in, or seeking, recovery.”
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 will:
· Improve prevention and educational efforts – particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations – to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery;
· Increase the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives;
· Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment;
· Increase the number of disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of children and adolescents;
· Launch and evidence-based opioids and heroin treatment and intervention program to assist in treatment and recovery throughout the country; and,
· Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.