SAN DONATO MILANESE, Italy — In the United States drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental fatalities. With over 2.8 million adults abusing it and around 20,000 overdoses per year, opioids make up the most widely used category of drugs in the United States. While looking for the causes of this epidemic, researchers have found that pattern emerged as the gateway to addiction: prescription painkillers. Emily Taylor is a Detroit resident and an advocate to fight inner-city high school problems. “Drugs have always been around in high schools,” Taylor says. “However, it is not until recently that I have started to see more opioids coming through.”
Taylor noticed this increase in popularity of opioids from speaking to some of Detroit students.
Heroin continues to destruct our nation’s cities across the map. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2014 to 2015, heroin overdose death rates have increased by 21 percent. Nearly 13,000 people died in 2015. Greater Lansing shows similar trends. Ingham County Health Department gathers information from a variety of sources to report its annual Opioid Surveillance.
FLINT, Mich. — There is currently an opioid epidemic happening in our area and across the nation. Opioid use continues to be on the rise. There has been an increase in overdose deaths related to heroin laced with fentanyl or carfentinal (animal tranquilizer),” said Kim Shewmaker, Director of Programs Operations for Flint, Michigan’s Odyssey House drug and alcohol treatment center. Michigan resident Aaron Emerson knows the struggles of battling a heroin addiction.
Dispensary owners and Lansing residents have been disputing a recent medical marijuana ordinance during biweekly City Council meetings. Some people in Lansing believe the flooded medical marijuana market results from poor marijuana dispensary regulations. “The purpose of the ordinance is to have realistic dispensaries available to people that really have a medical marijuana need,” said Marylin Ebaugh, resident of South Lansing. “What we have now is an over abundance of businesses.” A study conducted by Melissa Huber, Ph.D, estimates the number of patients spiked from 937 in 2011, to 2,866 in 2015. Some believe the process to obtain a medical marijuana card can be easily abused.
FLINT, Mich. — Summertime is crime time. And this Michigan city is no exception. “Research shows that there is an increase in crime during the summer, as opposed to the winter. One explanation for this is the warmer weather, which brings people out of their homes and into the streets,” University of Michigan, assistant professor of criminal justice Kimberly Bender said.
About eighteen thousand people die every year because of prescription drug overdose but with Michigan’s improved way to keep track of patients prescriptions it is predicted for overdose and abuse to decline. “Maps is the collection of controlled medication that patients get the state collects them in a file so that a doctor or pharmacist can see how much did they get when they got it,” said pharmacist from Knight Drugs Polly Cove.
Maps helps to make sure patients aren’t taking too much of one medication, duplicating medications or seeing more than one doctor and having them not know about each other. Drugs that are painkillers like morphine and oxycodone are usually what doctors and pharmacists check for when using the MAPS system.
“Sometimes as a pharmacist my job ends up being drug police,” said Cove. “I have to be the tattle tale that has to call and let the doctor know that the patient is not being straightforward.” The maps collection system has been around for 10 years, but the new system is much faster. What used to take up to 5 minutes now can be seen in the instant click of a button.
For Lansing youth who are interested in building life skills and exploring what working in public safety can offer, the Lansing Public School Youth Leadership Academy can be an effective learning experience that can lead to further opportunities with emergency services.