'Unite to Face Addiction' all-day rally set for June 2 at the State Capitol


It’s no secret the United States is in the midst of the worst drug epidemic in its history.  Since 2000, drug overdose deaths in have more than doubled, and beginning in 2013, drug overdose became our leading cause of accidental death. More than 47,000 people died of drug overdose in 2014 – nearly 129 people every day.

Deaths due to drug overdose have increased exponentially in Michigan since 1999, reaching more than 1,700 fatalities in 2014.  The primary driver of this epidemic, in Michigan and nationally, is addiction to prescription pain pills and heroin.

On June 2, Unite to Face Addiction-Michigan (UFAM) will host an all-day rally at the State Capitol in Lansing to raise awareness and to advocate for solutions.  The mission is to bring together grassroots organizations, recovery community organizations, prevention and treatment organizations, and other stakeholders in the addiction/recovery world to pursue common goals with a unified approach.

“There are so many things that need to change - at a policy level and also in terms of public perception – for us to effectively address the growing addiction problem and stop the deaths,” said Lauren Rousseau, one of the rally organizers. A professor at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, she is on the board of directors of two nonprofit organizations focused on addiction treatment and substance abuse prevention.

“This is a state-wide event, and all addiction and recovery organizations are invited, as well as any and all Michigan citizens who are concerned about our addiction crisis,” said Jeannie Richards, president of Bryan’s Hope, a nonprofit organization focused on opiate education and substance use prevention. 

Other organizations partnering with UFAM include MiHOPE, Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities, St John Providence, Foundations Recovery Network, Home of New Vision, Capitol Area Project Vox, Personalized Nursing Lighthouse, and Recovery Allies of Western Michigan.

The all-day rally will start at 9 a.m., with speakers at 10:30 a.m. Speakers include Craig DeRoche, senior vice-president of Advocacy and Public Policy for the Prison Fellowship; comedian Mark Lundholm; Ivana Grahovac, executive director of Austin Recovery; Jodie Debbrecht Switalski, lawyer, former sobriety court judge, and senior associate with the Stutman Group; and poet Matt Ganem. 

Musical entertainment includes Carly Keyes; Chris “The Devil Elvis” O’Droski; and The Detroit Rescue Mission Choir. Organizations will have information tables, and there will yoga demonstrations, massage, Reiki and other holistic healing methods, as well as Narcan training.        

For more information visit  ufamichigan.org.