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In an effort to help stop the opioid epidemic, Michigan adopts new legislation that allows people to deny opioid medicine by placing a non-opioid research directive in their medical file.

The goal of new law – signed by former Prime Minister Rick Snyder last year and coming into force today – is to prevent more people from becoming addicted to opioid analgesics, which is often a gateway to heroin and to to prevent the recovery of addicts from relapse.

While patients were never banned by falling opioids, smokers in the new law say it gives people a chance to make their wishes clear. "Could a person in the past refuse to take opioids? Absolutely," said the former state rep. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), who sponsored the legislation. "But what we found is when you have these types of directives … you start to see more conversation between doctors and their patients."

<img itemprop = "url" src = "https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2019/03/28/PDTF/53189bde-16cf-4c0e-a451-c79119d5a809-AP_Opioid_Lawsuits_NYJK416_xxxxxxx.jpg?width = 540 & height = & fit = bounds & auto = webp "alt =" Non-opioid directives allow patients to deny opioids as part of their health insurance plan [19659007] Non-opioid directives allow patients to deny opioids as part of their health insurance plan (Photo: Toby Talbot / Associated Press)

Like other advance directives, including non-reviving orders, having a record of a patient's wishes can also prove valuable if he or she is unconscious or otherwise incapacitated.

And then Michigan – as according to Government statistics have the 14th highest degree of drug overdose deaths in the nation – joining a handful of states that have similar non-opioid directive laws.These states include: Alaska, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Rhode Island. 5] There are some errors in the non-opioid directive. For example, there is no central database that gives all doctors access to them. Patients experiencing medical emergencies while away from their primary or home health care provider may end up being treated by a physician who does not have immediate access to their medical records or their advocacy directive.

But no one suggests that the new law is anything more than a small step in the fight against the opioid crisis. In desperate times, they say that each step counts for something.

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State opioid-related overdose deaths reached a full-time in 2017, the last year for which numbers are available. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, 1,941 of the state's overdose was 2,729 deaths in 2017 opioid-related. In 2016, the state registered 1,786 opioid-related deaths. It recorded 1,320 in 2015.

And while it is illegally fentanyl – mixed with much of the heroin supply – this is now the cause of most overdose deaths, experts say many people turn to heroin after first abusing prescription painkillers , either their own or those belonging to a family member or friend.

Doctors already write fewer prescriptions for opioid painkillers. Between 2015 and 2017, the number of opioid receptions in Michigan dropped 10.7%, according to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

And since July 2018, state law prohibits doctors from prescribing more than 7 days of opioid painkillers to patients with acute pain. They are also not allowed to write refills for these recipes until the 7-day period is over.

The non-opioid directive is another way in which people can be introduced to pills and later maybe heroin. [19659005] "You reduce access so I think it will have a long-term positive impact," says Monique Stanton, CEO and CEO of CARE of South-East Michigan, who is based in Fraser and offers treatment for drug abuse and support services for people affected by drug abuse.

But she added so much more needs to be done – there must be more access to Narcan, which reverses opioid overdoses and treatment.

There is no easy answer, says Dr. Debra Pinals, Medical Director of Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. "No one should look at a single solution like … the solution to the opioid crisis."

The non-opioid directive forms are scheduled to be available on the state's Opioid Addiction Resource website, michigan.gov /opioid.[19659021]Contact Georgea Kovanis: gkovanis@freepress.com.

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