Local opioid stories sought at Tuesday's Community Voices session

MONROE — Monroe County people affected by the opioid epidemic can share their stories Tuesday.

The Michigan Opioid Advisory Commission will offer a Community Voices session Feb. 20 at Recovery Advocacy Warriors (RAW), 554 Rambow Road. Community members can attend from 1 to 3 p.m.

“The forum in designed for community members to share their experiences or provide input, especially individuals and families who are have directly impacted by substance use disorders, mental health conditions, co-occurring disorders and/or involvement in the criminal-legal system,” the commission said.

Community Voices is part of the national opioid settlements. Monroe County is expected to receive $5.5 million over 18 years from the settlements.

“Funds are being received by state and local governments throughout the country. These dollars are being awarded for alleged harms, caused by the companies that marketed, manufactured, distributed and sold, pharmaceutical opioids,” the commission said. "Given the nature of the opioid settlements and an understanding that nearly all families in Michigan have in some way or another been impacted by substance use, mental health or involvement in the criminal-legal system, the Opioid Advisory Commission (OAC) believes there is a responsibility to include community voices in conversations around planning and use of state opioid settlement funds."

Monroe addiction physician Dr. Arun Gupta is shown in his Monroe office holding copy of his 2022 book and a recent issue of "Rotary Magazine." Gupta was featured in a story about the opioid crisis.
Monroe addiction physician Dr. Arun Gupta is shown in his Monroe office holding copy of his 2022 book and a recent issue of "Rotary Magazine." Gupta was featured in a story about the opioid crisis.

Dr. Arun Gupta, Monroe’s only addiction medicine provider, will speak at Community Voices. Gupta, a member of Monroe Rotary Club, is encouraging Rotary International to take up the fight against opioid addiction. He wrote the book "The Preventable Epidemic: A Frontline Doctor’s Experience and Recommendations to Resolve America’s Opioid Crisis.”

"Despite the wide use of naloxone in America, overdose deaths have consistently been more than 100,000 per year in the last four years and topped 112,000 in 2023," Gupta said. "We all know fentanyl is responsible for virtually all OD deaths in the four years, and naloxone is ineffective in the vast majority of these cases in preventing OD deaths. We must slow down and stop the OD deaths in America. The war on drugs has failed. We keep on putting more money into failed policies."

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At Community Voices, he'll share his ideas for a strategic reset in the opioid crisis. His plans includes changing medical school curriculum to include addiction courses, changing the laws regarding prescription medicine, decriminalizing of the treatment arm, ending the criminalization of doctors in America, banning street fentanyl and mandating education to reduce stigma.

OAC encourages people to fill out the Michigan Opioid Settlement Funds Community Impact Survey. To learn more and to find the survey, visit council.legislature.mi.gov/Council/OAC or email oac@legislature.mi.gov.

— Contact reporter Suzanne Nolan Wisler at swisler@monroenews.com.

This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: Local opioid stories sought at Tuesday's Community Voices session