Message from the President - Winter

New Hope for Addiction

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

You might think of a drug epidemic as something faced in bigger cities, not within our own community. However, the prescription drug and heroin epidemic is here in our own backyard. Berrien County has ranked in the top five counties in Michigan for heroin overdose in recent years. Prescription drug and heroin abuse isn’t limited to a particular age group or income level, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), making it more likely that any of us could know someone struggling with addiction.

To raise awareness of this problem and find new ways to help, community members have joined together to present “Voice Change Hope” conferences on prescription drug and heroin addiction. Lakeland Health has awarded a $20,000 grant to support this program through the Lakeland Health Foundations’ Community Wellness Endowment, which is designed to help local groups promoting health and wellness.

The Berrien County Health Department applied for the grant, which will be used to directly support the work of many community members collaborating on this project, including representatives from the Michigan State Police, Lakeland Health, the Berrien Community Foundation, Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, and Families Against Narcotics.

Our medical community is also taking a closer look at how we prescribe prescription pain medications to patients. Reports show that those who are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers — which can include Vicodin, OxyContin and morphine — are 40 times more likely to be addicted to or abuse heroin. Talk to your provider if you have questions about managing pain, and do not share your medications with friends and family members. (See page 13 for information on disposing of your unused prescriptions.)

We look forward to starting new conversations in the community about prescription drug and heroin abuse, and we hope to continue to provide the education and support necessary to fight addiction. For more information about the prescription drug and heroin addiction conferences, call (269) 683-4411 ext. 649.

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