State taking action in war against opioid use

Although somewhat late in acting, the Michigan Legislature is considering a handful of bills that, if passed and signed into law, should help stem the terrible toll opioid use and abuse is inflicting on Michigan and its residents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Drug Enforcement Agency, nearly 2,000 people died of drug overdose in the state in 2015, the latest year complete information is available for. That grim statistic represented a 13 percent increase from the previous year, which was about 13 percent higher than 2013.

The measures are bi-partisan, meaning leadership from both sides of the aisle are supportive. One would make education about opioid use and abuse a part of public education. Another would require physicians to monitor and obtain reports from a statewide and recently improved prescription database. Still another bill would seek to improve relations between physician and patient, theoretically reducing the chances of physician shopping, The Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, these deadly drugs continue to be easily available for many people. According to the DEA, more than half the people who used prescription opioids got them from someone they know. The drugs were, in all likelihood, legally prescribed and dispensed.

Police will tell you that once someone starts abusing prescription drugs, heroin use is often just around the corner. Heroin, remarkably, is often less expensive and easier to get than prescription drugs.

It appears lawmakers are willing to set aside partisan differences cooperate on this issue. We will watch the legislative process carefully, hoping the spirit of camraderie lasts long enough for the above-cited bills to pass the legislature and end up on the governor’s desk.

— The Mining Journal

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