Today, I thought I would address the opioid crisis that is currently ravaging the country. I apologize for the length of the post, but this is an issue I feel very strongly about and has multiple factors that need to be addressed. Since opioid overdoses and addiction doesn’t discriminate between Republicans or Democrats, this crisis needs to be addressed by both parties in Washington to create a bipartisan solution that neither side will try and sabotage for cheap political gains.
💊What is the issue?
Michigan and many other parts of America are being affected by an opioid problem. In 2015, 1,980 people died of an opioid related overdose in the state of Michigan, which up 13.3% from 2014 (Centers for Disease Control 2016). In Michigan’s 2nd district, 152 people died from opioid overdoses in 2015, and that number has been projected to rise in the future unless we take steps to stop this epidemic (Tanner 2017).
💊Why is it an issue? Who does this effect?
This is an issue because addiction has become an ever-growing problem in Michigan and in many other parts of the countries. Many people have become addicted to opioids in Michigan, it effects all types of people. There is not a predominance of any race, age group, or gender – this epidemic effects everyone.
There are many issues related to the opioid problem Michigan is facing, the first of which is the need for addicts to have easy access to treatment. Currently, Michigan treats approximately 20,000 people for addiction, and those who receive treatment for addiction are able to receive the help that they need because of Medicaid. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act would have kicked approximately 883,000 people in Michigan off of Medicaid, which would leave many of the people currently receiving addiction treatment without coverage.
Another issue related to Michigan’s opioid problem is a need for emergency responders to be available and prepared for medical emergencies related to opioid overdoses. In 2015 Muskegon county was averaging 1 overdose a day (Peters 2015). Also in 2015, Muskegon county lost 35 people to opioid related overdoses. Despite this, the City of Muskegon has taken steps to cut funding for the Muskegon Fire Department. A cut which will have an impact on response times and may increase the number of opioid related deaths within the county. Not only is this bad news for those who overdose, but it will also impact many other people having other medical emergencies within the city.
The opioid crisis is not only a symptom of people abusing their drugs – we also need to address the chronic over-prescribing of opioids by medical professionals. We need to ensure doctors, dentists, and any other prescriber are trained in ways to prevent addiction and know how to establish proper pain management plans. This crisis needs to be addressed on multiple fronts in order to prevent future opioid overdoses.
💊What is being done about it?
Representative Huizenga supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, which would impact many people who have sought addiction treatment and those that will in the future.
Rep. Huizenga also voted for the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act which together provides federal funding for states to improve prescription drug monitoring programs, make treatment programs more accessible, train healthcare professionals in addiction management, and research to prevent dependency. This is something we should all applaud Huizenga for, as he chose to stand with the Obama Administration and support country over party politics.
💊My approach to the issue –
As some of you know, the opioid crisis has impacted me personally. Two years ago today, my sister passed away from a fentanyl overdose, leaving my nephew without a mother. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about how needless her death was. I think that Washington can do a lot more to prevent tragedies like the one that I and many other Michiganders have faced, and it is our responsibility to address this issue as quickly as possible to save as many people as possible. I have other family members that have been effected by the opioid epidemic, and thankfully they are currently receiving treatment for their addiction. Addiction is something that is often hard to talk about, as many people find it to be an uncomfortable topic and feel helpless when a loved one is facing addiction. I can tell you that I have been there, I have felt helpless watching relatives battle with addiction. I think if they had more education on the subject and could easily access treatment for their addiction, they could have been more prepared when facing these issues instead of winding up in prison for possession. I think one major step we can take is to inform the public of ways someone can receive help for their addiction, so that everyday people can be prepared to talk with loved ones about addiction and not feel so helpless.
I do not support a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, nor did I support any of the bills that were put forth by the Republicans to replace the ACA. I think that the Medicaid expansion and the exchange has helped many people find healthcare. I think that if addicts that are currently in treatment or those who will seek treatment in the future should not be dropped from their health insurance or removed from their treatment plans as a result, as this will put those currently in treatment at risk of relapse and take away the hope of recovery from those who will seek treatment in the future. It will also feed back into the hopelessness of families and friends of loved ones facing addiction. That is unacceptable.
I think we need to insure our first responders are prepared and ready to fight this opioid crisis head on. It is frightening to think what will happen to the death rate of overdoses in the city of Muskegon if they cut funding the fire department by almost $700,000. Cuts to emergency services at a time when Michigan is facing a growing epidemic is not going to help solve the problem. We need to ensure our first responders are funded not only to save the lives of people facing addiction, but those with other medical issues as well.
Finally, I think education of our medical personnel needs to go a step further. Our doctors, nurses, and support staff need training on addiction and how to treat patients with a history of addiction to prevent further relapses. It is important that we have a prescription system that can help physicians identify patients that are at risk of addiction, and to ensure that they are not over prescribing while also not under-prescribing or denying medication to those who need it.
💊Wrapping it all up –
If you have thoughts about this topic, would like more information about the references cited, I would love to hear from you and talk to you about it, so do not hesitate to either comment on this post, contact me on my website, or send me a facebook message directly from my campaign’s page. I personally respond to each and every message I receive, and I honestly enjoy talking to my neighbors in the district.
Also, if you agree with me on these points, please help me reach as many people in the district as possible by going on Facebook and liking my page (Nick Schiller for Congress) and sending invites to like my page to all of your friends, family, loved ones, and even to the people you barely talk to. You never know who could use this information or has a relevant story to share on this issue, so please go and do it RIGHT NOW before you scroll away and forget about doing it forever. It only takes a minute of your time but it helps my campaign immensely.