Legislator: Youth opioid abuse starts in the medicine cabinet, not on the streets
State Rep. Joe Bellino today delivered testimony during the House Health Policy Committee in support of his plan to prevent teenage opioid abuse and pilfering from the family medicine cabinet by implementing locking prescription vials.
Pilfering, Bellino explained, is the process of skimming a few pills from a family member’s prescription bottles without them noticing, and studies show it’s the leading cause of opioid abuse in children and teenagers.
“This is a very personal cause for me as an addict in recovery,” Bellino said. “I was lucky enough to receive help with the support of professionals, but not all are so fortunate, and far too many lives have been lost as a result of opioid abuse. We must do all we can to prevent abuse to begin with.”
The legislator believes part of the solution is to make locking prescription vials the standard. The locking vials can only be able to be opened by individuals who know the combination code, preventing pilfering.
“For nearly fifty years we have been using childproof vials, and my proposal is no different from that concept – except it’s more effective. It simply updates existing law,” said Bellino. “Child-resistant bottles are simply inadequate in this day and age. If we really want to protect Michigan families, we need to make it more difficult for young people to access potentially dangerous drugs.”
Bellino stated this is a low-cost tool to keep teens from initiating abuse, and believes drug companies should be responsible for covering the cost of the vials.
“The real question we should be asking is ‘what is the cost of doing nothing?’” the Monroe representative said.
Joining Bellino for testimony were Detroit Red Wings play-by-play announcer Ken Daniels and Mike Hirst, founder of non-profit opiate abuse support organization Andy’s Angels, who both lost their sons to opioid overdose and have committed their lives to opioid awareness.
“We are all working for the drug dealers and we don’t even realize it,” Daniels said. “Our own medicine cabinets are the kick starters.”
House Bill 5857 remains under consideration by the House Health Policy Committee.
To learn more about this legislation, contact Rep. Bellino’s office at (517) 373-1530 or JoeBellino@House.MI.gov.