Governor Rick Snyder says current efforts to curb opioid abuse and addiction in Michigan aren’t working as nearly 2,000 people a year in the state die from overdoses.
“Far too many lives have been either lost, damaged, injured in some fashion because of these drugs,” he said. “We need to do more in our state.”
Snyder says a big part of the problem is over-prescribing painkillers. He says prescriptions have spiraled in recent years.
“There’s a lot more pills out there than likely we should need,” he says. “And we need to do something about that. And the prescription drug piece leads to heroin use, and we know we have a huge problem with that.”
The governor and state lawmakers rolled out a new bill package designed to combat opioid abuse. The plans include new limits on opioid prescriptions, requiring opioid and addiction education in classrooms, and making it easier for pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions.
A new computerized prescription system will also launch in April to help the state, doctors, and pharmacists keep track of who is prescribing, dispensing, and using opioids.
But Snyder and others say a “culture change” is needed to truly tackle the problem.
Linda Davis is a Macomb County judge who served on a task force looking for ways to fight the epidemic of opioid abuse. She says she become involved in the issue after her daughter struggled with opioid addiction.
“We want to feel nothing anymore,” she says. “We take pills for everything – to go to sleep, to wake up, if we feel anxious, if we feel a little bit of pain, and the truth of the matter is feeling is a good thing. It helps heal you, feeling your pain.”