Laurie Lawlor-Clark - Opiate Crisis Resources

Laurie Lawlor-Clark with others in front of Grand Blanc Police Station
Genesee County Prevention Coalition supports the DEA Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 28th. Pictured left to right: Kelly Oginsky, Officer Nelson, Laurie Lawlor-Clark and Cayli Clark

The following article was written by Laurie Lawlor-Clark, a current MSW student in our Flint program.

This past summer I viewed a life-threatening crisis occurring outside a Genesee County agency. A quick-responding competent team of employees began administering CPR on two men lying lifeless on the ground. I had previously been trained in how to respond to opiate overdose at a local Families Against Narcotics meeting, therefore, had an opiate blocker kit in my possession. I quickly threw the Naloxone kit out the nearby window to individuals performing the life-saving measures.

By the time I entered the scene outside, both men had been administered the injector kit. The men began breathing. The medical respondents arrived in time to assist with keeping the men alive and rushed them to the hospital. My personal training, access to the Naloxone injectors, and presence in the situation are vital factors that returned the breathing of the two men.

I recognize a need for the agency to have a policy in place to effectively intervene in the event of another opiate overdose emergency. Preparations are needed to overcome the lack of resources needed to be armed for the opiate epidemic that is impacting the nation. The opioid epidemic is a public health emergency that is spreading quickly. According to CDC (2018), more than 42,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2016. The need for the policy change is crucial for preparation in saving lives. Agencies must realize that opioids are a drug that many individuals are using to cope with mental or physical issues and once addicted, find it extremely difficult to quit- 80 percent fail with behavioral intervention (Bart, 2012).

The opiate issue is disproportionately high in Genesee County. Deaths from heroin and opioids in Michigan are 6.5 per 100,000 whereas the deaths in Genesee County were at 19.5 per 100,000 (Genesee Health System, 2017). These numbers place the county fourth for the most deaths in Michigan due to opioid overdoses. These statistics demonstrate the nature surrounding the need to respond with an agency crisis plan.

Witnessing and intervening in a recent opiate overdose at the agency has led me to recognize an organizational crisis. I am currently using the skills taught in the MSU MSW program to intervene in this crisis situation. I am scheduled to speak at the agency’s leadership meeting in May in order to collaborate with the agency to advocate on behalf of the clientele for a more effective opiate policy and procedure.

You can also download the full version of Ms. Lawlor-Clark's paper. Visit the Genesee County Prevention Coalition Facebook page to learn more about what they're doing to help.