Opioid summit concludes with public forum

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The opioid summit that began Wednesday morning at the Holiday Inn continued in the evening at Northern Michigan University. Federal, state, and local agencies gathered to speak to the public and receive feedback from the community on the subject.

During Wednesday's conference these agencies met to discuss strategies for combating the opioid epidemic, a crisis that sees thousands of death annually in Michigan according to the CDC.

"I think it's good that all of these different agencies are coming together,” said Michigan State Police Detective Lt. Tim Sholander. “They can explain what type of resources they can bring to a community."

Wednesday night, they hoped to discuss these issues with the public.

"Law enforcement isn't the only one that should be fighting drugs, this is a community problem and we need to solve it together," said Sholander.

Speaking before the community were doctors, nurses, local authorities, and recovery center coordinators.

"When we get law enforcement, judges, and community leaders working together to be look at treatment rather than incarceration it should tell you that we finally realize that we are treating this the wrong way and that we need to change the face of addiction," said Judge Linda Davis, president of Families Against Narcotics.

One of the goals of the summit, to get the community involved in the issue of opioid addiction.

“The next step is really on the community, because they know what our resources are, I’m looking for them to come to us and say, you know what I do have somebody in my community that lives down the street that has a drug problem, how can I help them," said Sholander.

Those who spoke Wednesday night said, the first step for those who wish to help out, is understanding the disease that is addiction.

"We somehow think people make the choice to do that rather than having it be something that is done to them, so we need to start looking at it as a disease and then I think the support will come," said Davis.

If you or someone you know struggles with addiction, it is recommended that you reach out to a treatment center like the Great Lakes Recovery Center, or even the Michigan State Police.

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