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Local leaders address opioid and heroin addiction in community

LANSING, Mich. – An increasing number of people are abusing opioids in the U.S., and Ingham County is no exception. Overdoses are at an all-time high in the county and cut across all age groups, incomes and geographic boundaries.

In response to the surge in opioid abuse, local officials have formed the Ingham Opioid Work Group to increase understanding and address the growing problem. The group was first convened in early 2015, and is moving to a more public and active phase with a press conference on January 7, 2016.

“Opioid addiction affects law enforcement, emergency medical services, local hospitals, treatment facilities and community groups, not to mention the people who are hurt by addiction,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail. “We have come together to share knowledge and expertise, but also to act. This is a complex problem that demands a collaborative solution.”

Opioids include prescription pain killers, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, which may be legally prescribed, and heroin, a Schedule I drug that has no accepted medical use. Prescription opioids have effects similar to heroin, and prescription drug addiction can be a gateway to heroin usage.

In 2014, there were 57 opioid-related deaths in Ingham County. In 2015, January through early December, there were 50 with several pending. Nationally, the number of overdose deaths involving opioid pain relievers tripled from 2001 to 2014. The number of heroin overdose deaths increased 6-fold nationally in that same time period.

A press conference to publicly announce the group and launch an awareness campaign will take place on Thursday, January 7 at 10 a.m. in Conference Room A of the Human Services Building located at 5303 S. Cedar Street in Lansing. The following people will speak:

•           The Honorable Donald L. Allen, Jr., 55th District Court

•           Mayor Virg Bernero, City of Lansing

•           Sara Lurie, CMHA CEI Executive Director

•           Phil Pavona, Vice President, Families Against Narcotics

•           State Representative Andy Schor

•           Chief John Stressman, Mason-Capital Area Prescription Drug Task Force

•           Linda S. Vail, Ingham Co. Health Officer

•           Chief Michael Yankowski, Lansing Police Department