School brings opioid awareness to area campus

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AMONG?THOSE?Taking part in the program were (first row, left to right): Giuliana Allevato, WMU-Cooley law student and president of the Criminal Law Society in Auburn Hills; Sharon Almonrode of Miller Law Firm; (second row, left to right) 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, left to right) 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 left to right) Dr. Carl Christensen, addiction medicine specialist and medical director for Dawn Farm and the Michigan Health Professional Recovery Program; and Wayne County 23rd District Court Judge Geno Salomone, vice president of Downriver Families Against Narcotics.

– Photo courtesy of  WMU-Cooley

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus Criminal Law Society recently hosted “Chasing Hope: An Opioid Awareness Program, an event that featured a documentary presenting key facts about abuse and addiction.

The 40-minute documentary, entitled “Chasing Hope — Student Edition,” looked at such consequences of opioid use as incarceration, violence and death.
The film focused 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 more than 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; Wayne County 23rd District Court Judge Geno Salomone, vice-president of Downriver Families Against Narcotics; and Dr. Carl Christensen, addiction medicine specialist and medical director for Dawn Farm and the Michigan Health Professional Recovery Program.

Other members of the panel were: 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, an 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.

The event was sponsored by Newport Academy and the WMU-Cooley Auburn Hills Sports and Entertainment Law Society.

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