Community can help with Opioid epidemic

MARQUETTE COUNTY– What is being described as an epidemic is sweeping the nation and the Upper Peninsula is not immune.

And many people are struggling to how to deal with it.

Even if you get them from a doctor for a legitimate medical purpose, opioid can be dangerous. In 2015, there were over 50,000 overdose deaths nationally, with around 17,000 of those deaths being from prescription painkillers, according to government statistics..

Rev. Thomas Skrenes, a Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church said, “I think this hits home to many people now that there is a tremendous crises and especially in rural areas, and I’ve seen this myself in my own family as a relative of mine died of an overdose and it reminds us that it can happen in all kinds of communities.”

However, there are many challenges to curbing opioid addiction. Legislation can regulate prescriptions, but according to 1 doctor finding the right balance is difficult.

Medical Doctor Kurt Olson said, “I believe there is a role with regulation in prescription of controlled substances, however there is a fine line at times between over regulation and making common practices with respect to prescriptions.”

Dr. Olson said that over regulation can make it more difficult to treat patients of chronic pain, many of which are older and have trouble getting to the doctors.

And Even friends and families have trouble getting help for people struggling with addiction.

Paul Olson, a therapist at Great Lakes Recovery Center said, “As far as you being able to help somebody you care about who you feel has an addiction to a pain medication or to any kind of a prescription drug medication, one of the things that’s really heartbreaking about that is that there isn’t that much that I or anyone can do if somebody else is addicted.”

However, this does not mean that the community doesn’t play an important role in combating addiction and helping those currently struggling with prescription medication. There are ways you can get involved in your community.

“Well there are many ways that the community is working here in Marquette County to fight against addiction,” said Rachel Hess, community outreach specialist at Great Lakes Recovery Center. “Not just opioid addiction, but a variety of different addictions that people come across in their lives.”

Additional being responsible with medication is a good way to protect against addiction.

“It’s important for members of the community to be aware of what’s going on with the people that you care about; if you have Opioid pain medications that are prescribed by your doctor, keep them locked up,” Olson said. “Take a hard look in the mirror sometimes and make sure you’re discussing with your doctor, is this really the right thing for me to. Should I be taking this pain medication and should I be taking as much of this pain medication as I am. Make sure that you’re really in touch with what’s going on with yourself.”

And for those going through addiction, there is hope.

Olson continued “Don’t give up on yourself, don’t give up on your community, don’t give up on the people who care about you.

If you want to get involved, you can check out the Marquette County Substance Abuse & Violence Prevention Coalition.