Chasing Hope: WMU-Cooley brings opioid awareness program to its Auburn Hills Campus

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WMU-Cooley Law School’s Criminal Law Society hosted “Chasing Hope: An Opioid Awareness Program” on Oct. 24 at the law school’s Auburn Hills campus. Pictured are (l-r, front row) WMU-Cooley law student and president of the Criminal Law Society in Auburn Hills, Giuliana Allevato; Sharon Almonrode, of Miller Law Firm; (second row) Christina Nicholas, director of substance abuse, prevention and treatment services at the Oakland Community Health Network; Lauren Rousseau, WMU-Cooley professor and president of Northwest Wayne Families Against Narcotics; (third row) Angela Spino-Bogota, community and school programs coordinator for the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities; Dawn Taylor, executive director of Spring Green Educational Foundation and producer of “Chasing Hope;” (fourth row) Dr. Carl Christensen, addiction medicine specialist and medical director for Dawn Farm and the Michigan Health Professional Recovery Program; and the Hon. Geno Salomone, 23rd District Court judge and vice president of Downriver Families Against Narcotics.

WMU-Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus Criminal Law Society hosted “Chasing Hope: An Opioid Awareness Program” on Oct. 24.  The event was sponsored by Newport Academy and the WMU-Cooley Auburn Hills Sports and Entertainment Law Society.

The program featured “Chasing Hope – Student Edition,” a 40-minute documentary presenting key facts about abuse and addiction, including consequences such as incarceration, violence and death. The film focuses on the onset of addiction in youth, since over 90 percent of people struggling with addiction began using substances before the age of 18.

WMU-Cooley student and president of the Auburn Hills Criminal Law Society, Giuliana Allevato, moderated a panel discussion on “Working to End the Opioid Epidemic.”

“We are in the midst of a public health crisis that we haven’t begun to understand fully,” Allevato said. “This issue has impacted everybody in some way or another – whether it’s directly or people you know.”

Allevato, who told a personal story about the impact her sister’s opioid addiction has had on her and their family, noted over 700,000 people have died from drug overdose from 1999 to 2017. In 2017 and 2018 alone, approximately 70,000 people died each year from drug overdose, making it the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States, she said.

“That comes to 192 deaths per day,” said Allevato. “It’s an epidemic that’s devastating our country.”

Panelists at the event included: Angela Spino-Bogota, community and school programs coordinator for the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities; the Hon. Geno Salomone, 23rd District Court judge and vice-president of Downriver Families Against Narcotics; Dr. Carl Christensen, addiction medicine specialist and medical director for Dawn Farm and the Michigan Health Professional Recovery Program; Lauren Rousseau, WMU-Cooley professor and president of Northwest Wayne Families Against Narcotics; Christina Nicholas, director of Substance Abuse, Prevention and Treatment Services at the Oakland Community Health Network; and Dawn Taylor, executive director of Spring Green Educational Foundation and producer of “Chasing Hope.”

In addition, Sharon Almonrode, a complex litigation attorney with Miller Law Firm of Rochester Hills, discussed “The Opioid Litigation: Why, What, Status” with attendees. Almonrode represents Oakland and Wayne counties in their litigation against multiple opioid manufacturers and distributors. The lawsuit is one of more than 2,300 opioid lawsuits pending before Judge Dan Polster in the Northern District of Ohio.


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