State officials take action to fight drug abuse and addiction

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Last month, Governor Rick Snyder established what’s called the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force in order to combat a growing drug problem in our state.

This evening, Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and the task force held a forum to allow the public to weigh in on where to start.

Dozens of people packed inside the room and gave some strong testimony about the growing drug problem in our state, and it wasn’t just lawmakers and state officials.

From people who are recovering addicts, to doctors who prescribed medicine, all weighed in on the issue.

Something Lt. Governor Brian Calley said will help the state develop a plan that he hopes will work.

“We’re seeing more and more of the addiction to things like heroin that start with prescription drugs and so, we know where the trail leads we just need better systems to deal with it,” Calley said.

30 people, from a county judge, to a former addict, had a story to tell tonight in front of state lawmakers and the drug task force, to shed some light on a growing problem that’s taking over our state.

Lt. Governor Brian Calley said statistics show, the unintentional drug related deaths in our state has quadrupled since 1999.

Tonight, members of the public pleaded that something needs to be done.

“It’s exciting to be able to talk about something like this and know that there are people out there that actually will listen and make a change, do something about it,” Kathie Reitano, Director of a non-profit organization, Bryan’s Hope said.

Stacie Burns, a former drug user who has been sober for six years, is also involved in the organization, and said having this public forum allowed the public to provide insight government and law enforcement officials wouldn’t otherwise be aware of.

“This is huge because for two years we’ve been begging and pleading for help and something like this is showing ok we’re being heard,” Burns said.

“What really stuck out to me was the types of hurdles that exist when somebody wants treatment,” Calley said.

A situation Nancy King went through when she found out her daughter had a heroin addiction back in 2009.

She eventually lost her to an overdose in January of 2012, but says when she tried to find help, there wasn’t enough resources available.

“For three years I looked for help, I searched for help, I asked people.. I called every 800 number you could possibly think of and I wasn’t able to find the kinds of help that I need,” King said. “Our insurance companies aren’t adequate enough in terms of meeting the needs of insurance, depending on the type of insurance they have, whether or not they can get long term recovery process and most are 14 days, that’s what some insurance covers.”

Moving forward, Lt. Governor Brian Calley said over the course of the next few months, the task force will meet every week to come up with a plan, and build the resources around making that plan happen to find a solution.

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