Opioid overdose rise addressed at medication disposal event

(WLNS) - A sweeping epidemic that continues to take lives across Michigan was addressed today, looking at ways to decrease number of opioid related deaths.

Governor Rick Snyder, alongside dozens of pharmacy students addressed the issue and talked about how they plan on combatting it.

There have been more ODs in and around Jackson already this year, then all of 2015 combined. Jackson isn't alone, it's a problem across the state that prompted an investigation into the high rates of opioid deaths specifically.

"Education is key to all of this and trying to figure out a way to educate all of the public and all physicians and patients is going to be the big challenge," Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Commission member Dr. Roy Soto said.

Dr. Soto says opioid cases commonly start with drugs administered for a real medical issue, but because of prescription abuse and improper disposal, he says often times medicine used to help, actually does the opposite.

"Unrestricted access to narcotics that really weren't prescribed for the conditions they are being used for," Dr. Soto said.

"Don't flush them down the toilet, just don't throw them out, lets find a safe disposal location, but please dispose of them," Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said

The Governor says efforts to educate people about that continues to improve.

"There are more organizations, more companies now adding more disposal units and I'm proud to say that State police is already doing that at their post," Governor Snyder said.

For the cases where users are already addicted, Dr. Soto says the use of the drug Narcan is key. The drug can reverse the affects of some overdoses.

Lisa Gee-Cram with the Jackson Narcotics Enforcement team agrees that arming law enforcement with Narcan is essential to lowering the number of OD deaths, but in Jackson, that has yet to happen.

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