State gets $16 million to combat ‘critically important topic' of opioid abuse

State and federal leaders say more attention, more resources and more money are needed to address a growing epidemic in Michigan -- addiction to painkillers and heroin.

LANSING, MICH. - Michigan’s battle against opioid addiction will be bolstered by more than $16 million in federal support; a contribution U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Thomas E. Price says represents an “unwavering’’ commitment by the Trump administration to curb overdose deaths.

“The president’s commitment to this is very, very strong and is unwavering in his desire to make certain that we turn the tide on this remarkable challenge that we have as a nation,’’ Price said.

Price and White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway were in Lansing Tuesday, May 9 to discuss efforts by President Donald Trump to fight opioid abuse. They were joined by Gov. Rick Snyder, who called it a “critically important topic.’’

Federal officials three weeks ago announced that nearly a half-billion dollars have been earmarked for prevention and treatment programs. Michigan’s share is $16.3 million.

Annual overdose deaths nationwide are “astounding,’’ claiming 52,000 lives last year, said Price, a Michigan native.

“That’s equivalent to the number of folks we lost as a nation in Vietnam,’’ Price said. “We’re losing a Vietnam every single year in this nation. And that’s unacceptable to the president, it’s unacceptable to his administration.’’

Trump on March 29 signed an executive order establishing the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Its mission is to study the scope and effectiveness of the federal response to drug addiction and make recommendations to the president for improving that response.

Over the last 18 months, Trump has heard numerous stories from families about drug addiction and the opioid crisis, Conway said.

“And the more we hear from people across the country, we recognize that no state has been spared and no demographic group has remained untouched,’’ Conway said. “We recognize that those who are closest to those in need know best what is necessary for their states and their local communities.’’

Michigan in 2015 logged 1,980 drug overdose deaths, including 109 in Kent County.

“This is a critically important topic; let’s keep moving forward,’’ Snyder said.

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