Opioid crisis talk discusses spread of addiction throughout the U.S.


Ten 16 prevention coordinator Sarah Garchow discusses the opioid crisis during her lecture on Feb. 21 in the Bovee University Center Isabella room.  

Attendees of “The Opioid Crisis” talk on Feb. 22 in the Bovee University Center’s Isabella Room learned exactly how large of a problem opioids are in America, and how quickly opioid addiction is spreading throughout the country. The talked was hosted by CM Crew.

Sarah Garchow, Ten16 Recovery Network’s prevention coordinator for Isabella County, spoke in detail at the talk about how many people are being affected, and in what ways.

“As of 2016, 11.5 million Americans aged 12 and older were misusing opioids,” Garchow said. “That number has risen a lot just in the last few years.”

Garchow said although opioids have existed since 300 B.C., opioids didn’t start being abused until World War I, when soldiers became addicted to the morphine prescribed to them for pain. Since then, Garchow said doctors have resorted to prescribing all types of opioids for patients with any sort of complaints about pain, which creates opioid addiction.

“It only takes seven days for your body to become addicted to the medication,” Garchow said. 

She said people in the U.S. are becoming addicted so easily because doctors are more than happy to prescribe them.

“A lot of people think it might just be a problem on the east coast, or just on the west coast, but it’s a problem that we’re seeing all throughout the country,” Garchow said. “We’re doing our best to combat it here in Michigan.”

To fight the opioid crisis in the state, Garchow noted how Michigan has created the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS), which tracks how many active prescriptions a person has. The purpose of the program is to limit opioid addiction by ensuring that patients are unable to access more pain medication than they need. MAPS will become mandatory for all pharmacies in Michigan on July 1, she said. 

Garchow stressed that women need to be the most vigilant when it comes to opioid addiction. 

“Women are actually more likely to become addicted to opioids,” she said. “Every three minutes, a woman goes to the emergency room for painkiller abuse.”

For some attendees, like Mount Pleasant senior Sydney Epple, who has a relative currently battling an opioid addiction, the problem is personal.

“I just think it’s become such a huge issue,” Epple said. “It’s always been an issue, but now we see it a lot more because of social media, and a lot more people are struggling with it. I think we need to learn about it so we can help.”

Ten16 Recovery Network is located at 2885 Health Parkway in Mount Pleasant, and offers detox services, outpatient counseling, peer support, education, outreach and prevention services.