Lt. Gov. Calley signs new laws to tackle opioid crisis

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It's a comprehensive set of laws all aimed at fighting the opioid crisis focusing on education, prevention, treatment and recovery.

A key part of today's legislation will let doctors track prescriptions through a new online database.

"This is an enormous step forward for our state," said Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.

Calley signed several bills into law Wednesday as lawmakers take an all hands on deck approach to tackling the opioid crisis.

"I've run an organization called Families Against Narcotics for the past 11 years," said Judge Linda Wells. "We were aware 11 years ago that this was going to be a major epidemic."

The new laws which take effect next summer, require prescribers to check a patient's prescription history before providing controlled substances. It limits the amount of pills that can be prescribed for acute pain and requires schools to educate students about opioids and the potential for addiction.

FOX 2 asked Lt. Gov. Calley how Michigan compares to other states when it comes to dealing with this crisis.

"If you would have asked me that question a few years ago I would have estimated that we were behind," Calley said. "Not only have we caught up, we are emerging now as a leader in the nation," Calley said.

Calley says simply arresting addicts if they are caught with drugs isn't the solution.

"I think now that we are decades into the previous strategy of trying to treat addiction by putting people in jail, it is safe to say it was a spectacular failure," he said.

The crisis affects people of all ages, gender, race and social class.

"I personally have three of my closest friends that are raising their grandchildren because their kids are either still in active addiction or they have died because of overdoses," Wells said.

The overdose antidote Narcan is commonly used by emergency responders to save someone who is overdosing. Michigan will now be making it more readily available at pharmacies.

"It seems every time we fix one part of the puzzle," Wells said. "We find out there is about 10 more pieces we need to address."