LANSING (WWJ) - With heroin overdoses on the rise, State Representative Anthony Forlini has introduced legislation aimed at keeping some of those people alive.
He would like the drug Naloxone available to everyone.
The drug counteracts the effects of an overdose and Forlini says that could give the addict a second chance.
"You can't self-administer this drug if you are lying unconscious on the floor of a rest room or a dorm room," Forlini said. "Somebody else is going to have to do it for you - this legislation - first off allows for somebody else, a family member to get the prescription, and it allows them to administer the drug. So that it helps save a life."
Forlini also wants to make sure that paramedics also have easy access to Naloxone as well.
He tells WWJ that addiction affects more people than we may realize:
"Just last month we had 13 deaths from overdose - this isn't your back alley stuff - this is honor students, high school athletes that got hooked on vicodin and oxycontin, which eventually leads to more powerful opiates like heroin."
Having passed committee, the bill will be up for a vote soon in the house.
The number of heroin overdoses in Oakland County has risen 300 percent over last years figures and overall the numbers in Michigan have tripled in the last decade.
In December, Monroe County health officials are calling it an "epidemic" — the proliferation of fatal heroin overdoses that continue to claim young lives.
With four more deaths attributed to heroin overdose in this past week alone, residents packed a meeting Wednesday night to talk about the growing scourge of drug addiction within their community.
April Demers, with the Monroe Substance Abuse Coalition, said Monroe County treats more people for heroin and opiate addictions than any other county in Michigan.
"We're losing people at just an alarming rate," Demers told WWJ. "Monroe does have a problem that really rises above even the rest of the state, and there are a lot of things that potentially go into that. We're on the I-75 corridor between Detroit and Toledo, so the availability, it's there."
Regular heroin use changes the functioning of the brain, creates a tolerance of the drug — in which more is needed to achieve the same intensity of effect — and dependency – characterized by the need to continually use the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms, according to the Institute.
To learn more about heroin and addiction, visit www.drugabuse.gov.
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