The opioid crisis has ravaged Michigan communities for years, and finally, the government is taking steps to provide for communities in need.
$3 Million and a Prayer
Michigan lawmakers will give $3 million to over 24 counties in the northern part of the state. These communities have suffered terrible losses over the past few years, and the government has not provided the resources so many people desperately need.
Sheriff Shawn Kraycs of the Crawford County Sheriff's Department says, "It's a scary time right now […] it's everywhere you go, you see people are strung out, like I said it's not just this community it's […] an epidemic for sure." Sheriff Kraycs also says that officers find drugs during traffic stops on a regular basis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse as people try to cope with job loss and poverty but end up in the middle of the opioid epidemic instead. Hopefully, the $3 million handouts will stimulate the local economies by providing employment and training services for people recovering from addiction, but recovery is a long road.
Many of the people in these communities need more than detox in jail – they need healthcare and mental health services. They will need time to recover from addiction and reassimilate into society. While the money is a start, these communities have a long way to go before they can be on the road to recovery.
If you aren't familiar with the opioid crisis, you're not alone. Many people are unaware of the scope of the crisis and the damage it has done to communities across the U.S. In Michigan alone, employers are struggling to fill open positions because so many applicants cannot pass a drug test.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
- Two out of three drug overdose deaths in 2018 involved opioids
- Prescriptions for Naloxone, a medication designed to combat opioid overdoses in the body, doubled from 2017 to 2018
- In 2019, over 10 million people ages 12 and older abused opioids
- Emergency department intake for opioid cases rose by 30% from July 2016 through September 2017
These numbers are horrifying, but how did the situation get so bad so quickly?
A Brief History of the Opioid Crisis
The first wave of the opioid crisis began in the 1990s as doctors increasingly prescribed highly addictive opioid medications for pain. OxyContin, heroin, and fentanyl exploded on the scene thanks to the efforts of pharmaceutical companies and doctors looking to make a bigger profit. How? Let's take a look.
When a pharmaceutical company develops a new drug, they go through several rounds of experimentation and testing to pass FDA inspection. Once the drug is approved, the company sends out salespeople to hospitals and practices to sell the drug to medical practitioners and hospitals. Doctors are (strongly) encouraged to prescribe the medication to patients if the hospital makes a deal with the pharmaceutical company.
This is how Purdue Pharma, the company largely responsible for aggressively marketing OxyContin and other products, sold opioids to hospitals around the country. Purdue Pharma is not solely responsible for the crisis, but they led the charge.
Now, millions of Americans continue to struggle with addiction over 30 years later. The opioid epidemic has never left the United States, and communities everywhere have paid the price. Now that Michigan lawmakers are beginning to take steps to repair their communities, many are hopeful that the end of the opioid crisis is in sight.
Hope for Michigan
Mark Berdan, executive director for Michigan Works!, says that he and other advocates are working to spread awareness and provide treatment options for those in need. Berdan says that his organization's goal is to get people back to work and back on track, but they can't do that without the help of lawmakers. He fees optimistic about the financial relief and the opportunities it could provide for those left unemployed by the opioid crisis.
White Law PLLC will continue to stay updated about the ongoing opioid crisis.