Hope in recovery: Muskegon County Opiate Summit aims to bring inspiration to those affected by opioid epidemic

The ongoing opioid epidemic that has claimed about 150 lives in Muskegon County since 2015 is prompting local organizations to sponsor the third annual Muskegon County Opiate Summit this coming Tuesday, Sept. 24. The event will be held from 3-6pm at the Delta Hotels by Marriott, located at 939 Third St. in downtown Muskegon.

This year’s event–which is being hosted by the Opiate Task Force, HealthWest, Muskegon County Public Health, and Lakeshore Regional Entity–aims to bring “hope and inspiration to those affected by opiate abuse by highlighting the amazing strides made by individuals in their recovery journey,” according to a press release from HealthWest.

“Opiate abuse continues to take a deadly toll on Muskegon County residents,” Pam Beane, the director of Substance Use Services at HealthWest and the chairperson of the Muskegon County Opiate Task Force, said in a press release. “This summit will help provide individuals, families, and professionals with the tools they need to overcome addiction.”

About 150 people have died in Muskegon County from opiate-related drug overdoses since 2015, including 35 people in 2018, according to data from the Muskegon County Medical Examiner. Accidental overdoses in 2018 involving opiates were responsible for more deaths than vehicle accidents and drownings combined.

Opioid abuse is a nationwide epidemic that has hit Michigan hard. Opioids include both illegal drugs, such as heroin, and prescription pain medicine. Common opioids used to treat pain include oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, and codeine. From 1999 to 2016, the total number of of overdose deaths involving any type of opioid increased more than 17 times in Michigan, from 99 to 1,699, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Data from the Michigan Automated Prescription System report 11.4 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2015 were written–about 115 opioid prescriptions per 100 people.

In Muskegon County, there were 111.4 opioid prescriptions written per 100 people in 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. That number represents a drop from 2016, when there were 126.7 opioid prescriptions written per 100 people, according to the CDC. In 2015, the number was even higher, at 135.8, and it was at 151.3 in 2014, the CDC reported.

As individuals, families and entire communities throughout the country, including here in Muskegon, grapple with the effects of opioid addiction, the summit aims to be place where attendees can do everything from connect with support to hear stories of recovery.

Michael Lynch, the founder of the Los Angeles-based Stairway Recovery Homes, an addiction treatment center, will speak during the event. Too, there will be a panel of individuals in recovery and their family members, as well as a presentation on the area’s new support group for families facing opioid abuse.

The summit is free, but you are asked to register by going to https://MuskegonOpiateSummit2019.eventbrite.com.

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