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Public health and public safety address opioid epidemic at statewide conference hosted by MDHHS


CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. – To help address the opioid epidemic affecting the state, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) hosted a statewide conference for 150 public safety and public health professionals today, April 17.

The Public Safety and Public Health Opioid Conference in Lansing featured state and national experts discussing the issues of addiction, law enforcement practices, naloxone use and first responder precautions. Best practices were shared, including presentations from Monroe and Macomb counties. Participants also had opportunities to collaborate with stakeholders from across the state.

“This conference is a strong step towards helping our communities work together to fight the opioid epidemic,” said Nick Lyon, MDHHS director. “By sharing lessons learned and best practices, we will continue to address this public health threat with a united front in the most effective ways possible.”

Sessions and speakers included:

  • Opioid Addiction: What it is and How to Treat it – Dr. Debra Pinals, medical director, Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs, MDHHS
  • The Evolving Epidemiology of HIV-Infected Persons Who Inject Drugs: Lessons Learned from Indiana 2015 – Dr. John Brooks, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Role of Medicaid and Other MDHHS Programs in Addressing the Opioid Crisis – Lynda Zeller, senior deputy director, Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Administration, MDHHS
  • Michigan Response to the Opioid Epidemic: The Naloxone Standing Order – Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive, MDHHS
  • Law Enforcement: Fighting the Opioid Crisis Through a Harm Reduction Model – Det. Sgt. Ron Martin, North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition
  • First Responder Precautions for Unknown Opioids – Dr. William Fales, Division of EMS and Trauma, MDHHS

Similar to the rest of the nation, Michigan has seen a dramatic increase in opioid-related deaths. From 1999 to 2016, 7,300 people have died from an opioid overdose with more than 60 percent of those deaths occurring since 2010.

For more information about opioids and the steps residents can take to protect themselves and loved ones, visit For information about available drug treatment services, visit

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