Civic leaders and law enforcement agents from Sterling Heights, Clinton Township, Warren and Macomb County recently met at Velocity Center in Sterling Heights to kick-off Operation Rx, an initiative aimed at fighting the opioid addiction epidemic.
Across the country and throughout Macomb County, prescription drug abuse has been on the rise. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdose in the United States has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids. While this epidemic is affecting the entire country, Michigan is one of the states with statistically significant increases in the rate of drug overdose deaths from 2013 to 2014.
This epidemic has taken root across all socioeconomic strata. Just as addiction is multi-faceted, the approach to combat it must be as well. One agency alone cannot fight the problem that is gripping countless communities, which is why Operation Rx has been launched.
“Addiction is a problem that affects everyone regardless of race, regardless of economic status, our communities need to come together and find a solution. Our residents expect us to take action and today is the first step for leaders in Macomb County to do something to reverse this terrible trend,” said Sterling Heights Mayor Michael C. Taylor.
Judge Linda Davis has been instrumental in creating Families Against Narcotics (FAN) and Operation Rx, which has unveiled a proactive approach involving health care providers, city leaders, legislators and law enforcement. Today’s kick off shared plans on de-stigmatizing the addiction, expanding access to treatment options, improving detection of the trends of illegal opioid use, providing more training for first responders on naloxone (the antidote to reverse opioid overdose, known by its brand name Narcan) and outfitting police with the antidote. This year, joining other departments across the County, Sterling Heights police officers were trained and equipped to use Narcan.
“Losing one life to this addiction is too many but losing thousands is a travesty and we must do all that is necessary to attack this epidemic,” stated Judge Linda Davis.
“We want to work with our partners across different sectors from businesses to faith-based communities, other municipalities and schools in getting the word out that we need to get people into treatment and that we need to get people educated that this is a problem that can be rectified,” said Director of Macomb County Health Department Bill Ridella.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the number of total opioid poisoning deaths in Macomb County in 1999 was 35, in 2014, the number increased dramatically to 249, the second highest of any county in the state of Michigan.
For more information, please contact the Sterling Heights Community Relations Department at (586) 446-2470.