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Opioid crisis a 'multi-pronged problem', officials say

en:User:Sponge via Wikimedia | CC BY 3.0

A growing opioid problem has local, state and federal officials teaming up to talk solutions. 

“As a federal prosecutor, we’re not often involved in a public health crisis. But this is different.”

Patrick Miles is the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan.

"We’re not just seeing the distribution networks supplying prescription drugs – whether it’s physicians who are illegally prescribing drugs, or gangs and cartels that are supplying and networking drugs to drug dealers and distributors," he says. "We’re also seeing people who are suffering from addiction." 

Miles says local U.S. attorney’s offices nationwide are being asked to come up with solutions to tackle the crisis.

"Because this is a multi-pronged problem," he says, "and it demands a multi-pronged solution." 

Miles says the goals are prevention, prosecution and treatment. And that’s a shift from previous public policy.

"From the so-called 'war on drugs' from the 1980's and '90's, we learned that we can’t prosecute our way out of some of these problems and challenges with drug abuse," he says. "We have to look at the treatment and the underlying addiction as well as the supply."

Miles says locally, his office is coordinating with a multidisciplinary group of experts from law enforcement and public health to work together on next steps.

Hilary is a General Assignment and Enterprise reporter for WGVU Public Media. She joined WGVU in September 2014 after several years of experience as a local news reporter, anchor and photojournalist in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties. She's also worked as a financial and business reporter and audio field producer.
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