The opioid epidemic has been determined a public health emergency by President Trump but does the epidemic have any impact at Ferris?
From a national scope, the epidemic is quite monstrous. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, 12.5 million Americans misused prescription opioids in 2015 and 33,091 died from an opioid overdose.
Narrowing the scope down to the mitten state doesn’t bring us a sigh of relief. In fact, there are more opioid prescriptions in Michigan than there are people, which ranks Michigan 15th in the drug overdose death rate, according to an article from MLive.
Fortunately, out of the 1,275 drug overdose deaths in 2015, only one of those deaths happened in Mecosta County, according to the article.
But with the epidemic on the rise, should Bulldogs be worried?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that adults between ages 18 to 25 are the biggest abusers of opioids, which include prescription pain relievers, ADHD stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs.
Despite these national findings, Ferris Director of Public Safety Bruce Borkovich has not found the epidemic to severely impact Bulldogs.
“I would estimate that we handle three to four opioid cases per year on average. Recently, we arrested a person breaking into cars on campus who was also selling drugs and we recovered what we thought was packaged fentanyl patches. After being tested, they turned out to be LSD,” Borkovich said. “I have not observed any recent issues with our students but I can report that marijuana use seems to be increasing on campus. The cavalier attitude that society has embraced regarding marijuana use and the concept of drug legalization has compounded the opioid epidemic.”
Ferris nuclear medicine junior Hawraa Albesher hasn’t noticed a problem at Ferris.
“I read a lot about people who were addicted to it and read case studies about it but I have never met someone who’s addicted to it,” Albesher said.
Albesher also thinks students may be more susceptible to opioids due to the stress of college.
While the opioid epidemic may not be obvious within the Ferris community, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people impacted by the problem.
“I am sure that there are students, faculty or staff on campus who are struggling with an opioid addiction. Many people have a stereotype of the recreationally drug-addicted person but this epidemic very often begins with an i n j u r y or illness where part of the medical response is a prescribed opioid. This can lead to addiction in some people. If an addicted person can no longer get a prescription opioid legally, they sometimes turn to a street drug like heroin,” Borkovich said. “The danger is compounded by the nature of what a drug like heroin is composed of when it comes to a destination city like Big Rapids. Virtually every drug dealer who sells heroin ‘cuts’ their supply to increase profits—this cut can be as harmless as protein powder or as dangerous as crushed up opioids in pill form or even fentanyl or carfentanyl. These cuts not only increase profits by maximizing volume but the “cuts” give an opioid euphoria similar to the heroin high. Obviously, this can be extremely dangerous and overdose deaths are common.”
If you or anyone you know is struggling with an opioid addiction, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
“I would encourage any student, staff member or faculty member who is struggling with an opioid addiction to first, always seek professional medical help. If you present your addiction to a medical professional, they will treat your addiction with confidentiality. Very few people can break this addiction on their own without medical help and counseling,” Borkovich said.