Opioid conference set for Oct. 19

Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals and local law enforcement frequently host prescription medication and needle take-back events in an attempt to reduce the number of controlled substances containing opioids in circulation. In order to educate the public on the topic of opioid use and misuse, Spectrum Health will host the conference “The Crisis Next Door” on Friday, Oct. 19, along with several other local and state agencies. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — As fear and stigma surrounding what has become known as the “opioid crisis” continues to grow throughout the country, local medical professionals are attempting to educate the public on this issue.

In order to increase awareness and answer questions regarding the use and misuse of controlled substances containing opioids, Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals, Ten Sixteen Recovery Network, Community Mental Health Central Michigan, Mid-State Health Network and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will host the conference “The Crisis Next Door.”

This conference is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, at the Mecosta/Osceola Career Center, 15830 190th Ave., in Big Rapids, and will include information about the impact, engagement and local support involved with the opioid crisis — a problem existing within the medical community for the past several years involving over-prescribing substances containing opioids to patients, and a resulting increase in abuse and overdose due to these substances.

Scott Lombard, manager of community outreach and education for Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals, said this conference is important for people to attend because it will address recent changes to Michigan prescribing laws for medications containing opioids.

“We have done conferences in the past for medical staff, but we wanted to connect with more of the community in general on this, especially because of the new laws,” he said.

Registration for the conference closes at the end of the business day on Friday, Oct. 12, and anyone interested is invited to attend the free event.

Lombard said along with lunch, the conference will include speakers and breakout sessions for people to attend.

The speakers will include Sam Price, president and CEO of Ten Sixteen Recovery Network, and Katelin Aris, nurse educator with Spectrum Health, Lombard said.

Aris, who also is studying to be a nurse practitioner, explained her portion of the conference will cover topics such as the concepts surrounding the opioid crisis, including addiction, misuse and tolerance; the role of the patient and local and statewide trends for opioid use.

Lombard said the topics to be covered during the breakout sessions are the risk substances containing opioids pose to human trafficking victims, marijuana in Michigan, prevention and treatment of addiction and methadone treatment.

He added although conferences regarding opioid use have been hosted in the past, the hope of “The Crisis Next Door” is to bring awareness to the public at-large.

“We figure the more people we can educate on this topic, that’s a way to help bring awareness to the problem,” Lombard said.

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