Increased access to life-saving medication is helping to prevent overdose deaths

Brett Roberts

Prescription drug and opioid abuse has become a serious problem here in Michigan, and the latest statistics are staggering.

Michigan ranks 10th nationally in per-capita prescription rates of highly addictive opioid pain relievers and 18th in the nation for all overdose deaths. Nearly 4,800 Michigan residents died from 2009 to 2012 due to unintentional or undetermined intent poisonings, according to a report from the Michigan Department of Community Health.

My colleagues in the Legislature and I have been focused on combatting the epidemic of people overdosing on opioid drugs like Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, morphine and codeine. This year we approved a number of bills expanding access to opioid antagonists such as Naloxone, which are used to reverse the effects opioids have on the body.

Our legislation ensures that first responders have medication on hand to save the lives of those who are overdosing and makes the inhibitor medications available to friends and family members of people who are recovering from drug abuse. We’ve also expanded current law so people can seek help for friends who have overdosed without facing criminal charges for doing so. These new tools are already delivering results, as police officers used the medication to save several lives this summer. Prescription drug and opioid abuse is a problem that impacts communities across our entire state, and I’m proud that we have been able to come together and make some progress.

Another important part of the solution to this epidemic is ensuring that people struggling with drug abuse, along with their friends and family members, know where they can turn for some help. A list of resources available in each county can be found at

As always, I encourage anyone who has questions about our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, or any questions on state government to call my office at (517) 373-1775, or email me at


State Rep. Brett Roberts represents Michigan’s 65th House District, which serves residents from Lenawee, Jackson and Eaton counties.