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U.S. Surgeon General speaks on opioid addiction at UM

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flickr/Charles Williams
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The United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams joined a panel discussion on opioid addiction at the University of Michigan Thursday. 

Adams highlighted the challenges of the opioid addiction epidemic, calling for a cultural change in how people use opioid medications.

"We need you all to have discussions in your communities, at your board room tables, at your break room tables, at your dinner tables, about how dangerous these medications can be when used improperly and the fact that in the majority of cases you simply don't need them," said Adams. 

He also discussed the relationship of trauma and adverse childhood experiences to drug addiction, and the importance of developing programs that promote resilience.

"We want to understand what adverse childhood experiences are, and how trauma sets people down this pathway towards these negative outcomes," said Adams. "It's not what's wrong with you, it's what happened to you."

The event was titled "Better Health Through Better Partnerships." However, Adams did not propose any initiatives or partnerships from the Surgeon General's office or from the Trump administration to address the opioid epidemic. Instead, he invited panel members and the audience to voice their concerns, which he said he would take back to the Department of Health and Human Services for consideration.

Suggestions by panelists ranged from minimizing new cases of addiction through more careful prescribing  to increasing access to medication-assisted treatments.

"We need to increase access to medication-assisted treatment by as many possible ways as we could think about doing it, including by encouraging our physicians who could be prescribing suboxone, decreasing the stigma for them, getting them waivers, getting them training them to do it so they feel comfortable going out into their communities," said Rebecca Cunningham, Director of the UM Injury Prevention Center.

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