By VLADISLAVA SUKHANOVSKAYA
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michiganders could find help for addiction, suicidal thoughts, sexual assault and poisoning when they pay for their pharmacy supplies.
Advocates want to put the hotlines for help with those problems on receipts for prescription drugs.
“We have a serious crisis going on with people abusing prescription drugs,” said Rep. Nate Shannon, D-Sterling Heights, who introduced the bill.
Anything that can address the crisis with opioids and other drugs is worth the effort, he said.
Hotline contacts would be displayed at each counter where prescription drugs are dispensed and on receipts.
They are for the national helplines from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, a suicide prevention hotline, Alcoholics Anonymous and the poison help hotline from the American Association of Poison Control Centers, according to the bill.
It is a great idea, Dean Dauphinais, an operations assistant at Families Against Narcotics, wrote in an email. “Providing information on how to get in touch with national organizations like (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services) could definitely assist people in finding help for their substance use disorder.”
Macomb County-based Families Against Narcotics is not the only organization that supports this idea.
“The Michigan Pharmacists Association has always advocated for expanding a patient’s access to care, and we believe this legislation will do just that,” Brian Sapita, the director of government affairs at the association, wrote in an email.
“Making sure these resources are available to our patients will lead to a positive impact in our communities, and even if only one life is saved, we would consider this legislation a success,” he said.
The idea came from brothers Moussa Chehab and Ahmad Chehab, who are students at the College of Medicine at Central Michigan University.
They have been providing hotline numbers for three years on the prescription bags used in their father’s pharmacy in Madison Heights.
Initially, they wanted to give people with opioid addiction an opportunity to get help. Then they added hotlines of other organizations.
“The goal is to put these numbers in front of people so they can find help and it doesn’t cost any money,” said their father, Jeff Chehab.
The prescription bags in Chehab’s pharmacy now includes these numbers:
Substance Abuse Addiction Mental Health
National Sexual Assault Hotline
People can call Poison Control for animal bites, food poisoning and if they suspect hazardous contact, such as swallowing or inhaling poisonous materials like batteries and carbon monoxide.
In addition to hotline contacts, the bag displays the American bald eagle symboliozing that a person can be free from addiction, said Jeff Chehab.
The brothers checked if the hotlines are active, and help is free. A person on the hotline asks a caller’s ZIP code and gives a list of places to go for help with or without insurance, Ahmad Chehab said.
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Health Policy.