Hillsdale Daily News: Opioid panel highlights drug issues
HILLSDALE — Elected officials, community leaders, students and community members gathered Monday night at Phillips Auditorium at Hillsdale College for an opioid panel hosted by the Hillsdale College Republicans.
Brock Lutz, the director of health and wellness at Hillsdale College, moderated the event and was joined by panelists such as Hillsdale County District Judge Sara S. Lisznyai, Hillsdale County Sheriff Tim Parker, Congressman Tim Walberg (R—07) and Dr. Donald Brock, the director of emergency medicine at Hillsdale Hospital.
“This is a cultural issue,” Parker began. “This is a societal issue.”
From an emergency room perspective, Brock said that throughout the course of his professional work, he has personally pronounced between 100-150 deceased from an opioid overdose.
Quoting statistical information provided from the Hillsdale County Jail, Parker added that 75-percent of the current inmate population is incarcerated due to involvement with drugs.
While the panelists agreed that the opioid discussion was important, all alluded to the fact that in Hillsdale County crystal methamphetamine is more prevalent currently than heroin or fentanyl.
Lisznyai highlighted statistics from 2016, Hillsdale County’s most lethal year involving heroin, through today which shows a steep decline in heroin specific crimes.
Parker echoed Lisznyai’s statements as well as Brock.
“Meth is a huge, huge issue in this community,” Brock said. “There’s not a day that goes by that I’ve worked that I don’t see something related to meth in some way or another.”
To combat these issues, the panelists all agreed that community leaders in Hillsdale County have stepped up to find innovative ways to combat the drug epidemic, including Lisznyai’s recent work to set-up a drug treatment court and a Vivitrol program at the Hillsdale County Jail.
“We have an opportunity in a smaller community to put some things together to tackle this at a smaller perspective,” Brock said.
Walberg highlighted workings in congress to address the issue at a national level, which includes changes within the medical community aimed at establishing prescription databases to curb addicts from obtaining multiple prescriptions from varying physicians.
He also said that the federal government is working with various agencies to find a non-narcotic solution to chronic pain management.
“We have to take the information that comes from society and, with common sense, decide what we do with it,” Walberg said.
The panelists were asked a handful of questions from community members present including how the issue became as widespread as it is today.
Brock answered simply that physicians carry some responsibility in the issue in past practices of prescribing opioid-based narcotics for long-term pain management.
Click here to read the original story in the March 28 edition of the Hillsdale Daily News.