More work to do on opiate addiction

Robert Kostin

Prescription drug abuse has been a prevalent topic in the media the past few months. While this epidemic is destroying many lives each and every day, my hope is that we can begin a statewide conversation about adequate measures to reduce addiction and deaths related to drug overdoses. As a sponsor of Bryan’s HOPE (Heroin & Opiate Prevention & Education), I’ve helped to raise awareness around opiate addiction for the past two years.

I believe that we must take every action possible to help those suffering with this affliction. This includes expanding the tools we utilize to combat opiate addiction with a deterrent formula that makes abusing the pills nearly impossible.

In 2014, deaths in Michigan from drug overdoses rose a staggering 14 percent, and a large number of those deaths resulted from opiates.

This increase has prompted Gov. Rick Snyder to recommend the use of more tools to fight this crisis, including updating the Michigan Automated Prescription System, increasing the availability of the lifesaving drug Naloxone, and creating a public awareness campaign around opiate addiction.

While I applaud the governor’s call to action, I urge him to also encourage opioid abuse deterrent properties (OADP) as another tool to fight addiction. OADP medications are pills that cannot be crushed or melted and therefore prevent addicts from abusing medically prescribed pills through inhaling, smoking or injection. Pills with OADP have been proven to shrink the demand of the pain pills on the streets and cut addiction rates 66 percent.

While OADP is not a final solution to opiate addiction, it is certainly a vital weapon in this fight.

Bryan’s HOPE, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness and support around opiate addiction, aims to remove the stigma associated with addiction and treat it with the same comprehensive approach that would be used for any other serious disease. The utilization of OADP would be a part of the comprehensive measures taken to help combat the disease of addiction.

As an attorney for more than 25 years, I have experienced the toll opiate addiction takes on the justice system. The poor souls are not only arrested buying and selling drugs, but also because they are committing crimes to to feed their addictions.

OADP would be a measure that could alleviate some of these problems because they can help to make addiction less prevalent, along with the other aforementioned tools, and thus limit the number of addicts committing crimes.

For too long, the discussion about opiate addiction has been considered to be taboo and has gone under the radar, allowing the problem to spread like an epidemic across the country. I hope that, with opiate addiction at the forefront of national attention, our legislators will take action and add OADP another tool to curb this crisis.

Robert Kostin is a lawyer in Clarkston.