Battle against opioid abuse starts at home

We were astounded to read an opinion by an emergency room physician and University of Michigan assistant on the dangers of opioid abuse.

According to Brad J. Uren, MD, who wrote recently in a column for The Detroit News, opioid-related overdoses are responsible for the largest share of injury-related deaths in the state of Michigan.

Opioids include heroin, prescription opioids and nonpharmaceutical fentanyl.

Separately, The Associated Press reported this week that according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 1,700 of the 2,335 overdose deaths in 2016 in Michigan were opioid-related.

Nationally, the numbers are even more grim: more than 33,000 Americans perished in 2015 from opioid overdose.

Local, state and national police agencies have been telling us for years that opioid abuse was killing us — literally. No doubt, Dr. Uren has seen his share of this carnage in his line of work.

Where are all these drugs coming from? Often, wrote Uren, they are left over from legitimate prescriptions given to treat pain. Leftover drugs taken by friends or family and abused with often dire consequences.

And here’s a bit of information that shocked us: Approximately one in three patients, according to studies, who are prescribed a narcotic medication engage in non-medical use in the next year.

One key to limiting the abuse potential of these medications is to remove them from circulation, Uren wrote. Often, these are prescriptions that are several years old. He suggests, and we agree, that leftover medications should be turned over to a police agency for proper disposal.

Also, the state of Michigan maintains an up-to-date listing of locations on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality website that accept unused medications for safe disposal. Check the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality website for complete details.

All of us have a role, large and small, in fighting this scourge. But we believe it’s a winnable war.

We trust readers do, too.

Mining Journal (Marquette)