Wayne State University

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WSU Faculty Team Up With Public Safety

February 28, 2017

By Doug Skrzyniarz

The opioid epidemic is increasingly becoming a priority in public health across the country and here in Michigan. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Lt. Governor Brian Calley, and many leaders in the state legislature have reached out to community mental health agencies and local law enforcement to offer assistance. In Wayne County and Detroit, Tom Watkins at the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority has been a leader and partner in supporting Wayne State University’s initiatives on substance abuse and mental health. This past fall, former U.S. Senator Carl Levin brought Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, to campus to talk about the need to de-stigmatize substance abuse and for the health professionals to play a more pro-active role in preventing substance abuse in their patients.

Wayne State University’s task force on the misuse of controlled substances is already making a difference here on campus. In 2015, there were 1,980 drug overdose deaths in Michigan, an increase of 13.1% over 2014. Most of those deaths involved heroin or prescription opioids. Tragically, many of them might have been saved if naloxone, an opioid antagonist, had been administered in time. Recognizing the critical role of naloxone training and distribution in reducing the number of opioid deaths, a Wayne State University campus-wide task force on Safe Use of Controlled Medications listed naloxone education for public safety officers as a core priority.

The task force, formed July 2016, is pleased to announce that naloxone training for Wayne State University Police Department was initiated in November 2016 and is ongoing. Wayne State Police officers carry kits with two naloxone nasal spray capsules, enough to reverse most opioid overdoses long enough for transport to the nearest emergency department for definitive care. Training and naloxone kits were provided by Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority. Other first responders trained include the Michigan State Police and Detroit Police Department.

It is important to remember that naloxone reverses opioid overdoses. It cannot reverse overdoses from other drugs or alcohol.

Following six months of county-wide trainings, the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority announced that 29 lives have been saved by timely administration of naloxone. Most of the lives saved were by first responders or social service providers, but private citizens also stepped up. Importantly, the people saved include men and women, and different races and ethnicities, highlighting that the opioid epidemic affects all of us.

If you are interested in getting involved on this issue, please contact Doug Skrzyniarz, Associate Vice President of Government Health Affairs, at Skrzyniarz@wayne.edu or call him at 586-873-5926.


Division of Government and Community Affairs
4092 Faculty Administration Building, 656 W. Kirby • Detroit, MI 48202
Tel: (313) 577-5284