Mental Health Authority taking steps to combat substance abuse

Paul Vier said during his time serving in The U.S. Navy he drank a lot and spent a lot of money.

“I was an adult child with a guaranteed paycheck, which is a bad combination,” said Vier, a peer recovery coach and support specialist with the The Recovery, Information, Support and Education Center (RISE) Center in Pontiac, which opened in 2015. “I have lost friends to addiction. Somehow I have never spent more than one night in jail.”

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Vier said he left The Navy in 2002 due to a failed drug test.


“I denied my problem by saying, ‘it was only for marijuana’,” said Vier. “I came back to Michigan back in Trenton where my substance abuse had started. I had no responsibilities again. I met a couple of brothers who had connections for drug orders. With my free address and their connections you can imagine where this ended up going.”

Vier said he ended up leaving Trenton, and moving to Monroe where he entered rehab.

“My first summer there I met a guy who helped me enter the process of recovery,” said Vier. “Thanks to his persistence, my recovery birth date is January 7, 2007. I have a wonderful family that I cannot give enough praise too after all I’ve put them through.”

Vier told his story of substance abuse, how he was able to find support, make recovery a reality, and ultimately become a recovery coach at the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority’s Legislative Breakfast on Friday.

The topic of discussion this year was substance abuse. Policy makers, doctors, public health advocates, as well as state and U.S. representatives and senators were on hand to talk about this growing epidemic in communities across the country and here in Oakland County.

Willie Brooks, Oakland County Mental Health Authority director and CEO, said this is often not an issue for many people, “until it’s on your door step.”

“This has always been an issue for the community,” said Brooks. “This is an epidemic. Opioid abuse is hitting home and it’s not discriminating against race, creed or economic status. The politicians now have first-hand experience of the epidemic in their communities. When our leaders have that experience then changes occur.”

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Julie Brenner, executive director of Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities, said her organization brings together 18 community prevention coalitions to combat substance opioid in Oakland County.


“We work with The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff (Michael) Bouchard on Operation Medicine Cabinet since 2008,” said Brenner. “All of our coalitions partner with community law enforcement on Take Back Day April 29th. Getting these expired and unused drugs out of homes is the key component of keeping our children safe.”

Operation Medicine Cabinet, a…

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