Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard wants to see more done to stop the prescription pain pill and heroin epidemic.
His deputies carry Narcan in their cars, a drug that can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose including heroin, and prescription pain pills like morphine, codeine and oxycodone.
Bouchard said in more than a year and a half, his officers have used Narcan 62 times saving 59 lives.
“I’m staggered by that number,” Bouchard said.
As sheriff, Bouchard has seen first-hand the devastation heroin addiction has on families and the community. He wants everyone to know this is a problem that cannot be ignored.
“It’s everyone’s problem. I don’t care where you live, what economic strata you’re in, what race, creed, religion you are, this is destroying lives everywhere,” Bouchard said.
Right now there is no obvious path to staying clean for the people given Narcan. Local 4’s Dr. Frank McGeorge, an emergency room doctor, said that’s one of the challenges we’re facing with this epidemic.
“Unfortunately the problem is, when we see people in the hospital for example with an overdose, we don’t have a choice but to just discharge them and of course that means there is a good chance they’re going to use again which puts them at the same risk of overdose that led them to the hospital to begin with,” McGeorge said.
In 2017, Bouchard would like to see a plan develop that would connect those who receive Narcan with a path to recovery.
“We’d like to see some mandatory connection, some law that connects them with a public health, some kind of treatment, some kind of required after care,” Bouchard said. “There needs to be a process to connect that person that has a clear addiction and problem with resources that can hopefully stop the behavior before it does become lethal.”
Bouchard says he plans to work with the new state legislature to encourage a bill that would create a new way for addicts to get help.
“There has to be an after care. We can’t arrest our way out of this and we can’t Narcan our way out of it. It has to be a systemic treatment prevention community-wide effort,” Bouchard said.
Sheriff Bouchard is also focused on helping addicts once they leave jail with some sort of after care and some sort of blocker to prevent them from getting high while they get an opportunity to get counseling and a second chance at life. He hopes to introduce that program later this year.
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