State Launches New App to Prevent Opioid Overdoses

LANSING (Capital News Service) — The Health and Human Services Department has launched OpiRescue, an app designed to help the general public reverse opioid-related overdoses. 

Angie Smith-Butterwick, the manager of the department’s substance abuse, gambling and epidemiology unit, said OpiRescue provides educational tools and resources about opioids. 

The app helps users recognize genuine overdoses and other medical emergencies, Butterwick said. 

Butterwick said OpiRescue provides the department with data showing where opioid misuse is being reported and allows the department to know where resources are most needed in Michigan. 

The department is paying for the app.

OpiRescue also includes a feature that locates where to find naloxone, the medication that can reverse overdoses, as well as nearby treatment centers

“While the app is targeted at recording those overdoses out in the community, it also has a whole host of resources within the application itself,” Butterwick said. 

A find naloxone button shows nearby pharmacies that have naloxone for distribution without a prescription.

It has additional resources for community agencies that distribute naloxone for free, she said. 

Butterwick said that OpiRescue is for general public use.

“While we do want everybody to call first responders, if they find somebody suffering from an overdose, it’s far more important to have the general public, friends, family members and loved ones of individuals who are using opioids to be armed with this tool,” she said. 

Aric Dowling, the commander of the State Police prevention services program, said OpiRescue will help his department with people who struggle with substance abuse. 

“Any tool that helps our troopers and officers assist people — anything that we can get– our officers are extremely happy to have that assistance,” Dowling said. 

“We didn’t have methods to really help somebody. All of these extra avenues give us the tools that we need to do more than just arrest somebody, but to try to get them help so we have a positive impact in their life,” he said.

“Instead of responding to an overdose, and that’s it, we can help try to get them somewhere where proper professional services are available for treatment,” he said.”

Dowling said an advantage of the State Police Angel Program that he heads is people can come into any state police post and get connected to recovery treatment services without fear of arrest.

Jaden Beard is a writer for Capital News Service.