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State health department announces first two virtual opioids town halls

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Melissa Benmark
Michigan Radio

Michigan health officials want to hear from residents of each region of the state about how the opioid crisis has affected them, their loved ones, and their community.

And they want feedback about services, programs, and policies.

This week, officials are holding the first two in a series of five regional virtual town halls on the opioid epidemic. 

One is set for Wednesday, September 23 for residents of  Northern Lower Michigan, and the other is scheduled for Friday, September 25. Three more are slated to take place before the end of the year. An in-person opioids town hall was held in Detroit earlier in the year before the onset of the COVID pandemic.

At the meetings, officials from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Opioids Task Forcewill share the state's strategies to address the opioid crisis, as well as hear from residents and local groups.

"When the state is formulating its opioid strategy," said Andrea Taverna, senior advisor for opioid strategy at the MDHHS. "It's extremely important to hear from individuals with lived experience and make sure that we're meeting all of the local needs and all of the local challenges that folks identify."

"In 2018, in Michigan over two thousand individuals lost their lives to opioid overdoses," said Taverna. "We do face a severe and ongoing crisis of drug overdoses in our state and across the country."

Taverna said the crisis is getting even worse during the COVID pandemic at least in part because of additional stresses from uncertainty, economic dislocation, and required social isolation.

More information about the meetings and about the state's opioid resources and strategies can be found here.

Individuals can email comments to  the Michigan Opioids Task Force at MDHHS-OpioidsTaskForce@michigan.gov

Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
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