Image courtesy of Flickr user v1ctor.

The opioid crisis is a nationwide epidemic. Though we account for only 5% of the world’s total population, the United States accounts for more than 80% of opioids consumed. In Michigan, more deaths occur from opioid overdose than traffic or gun related fatalities and in 2015 doctors wrote 11 million opioid prescriptions—that’s more than one prescription for every man, woman, and child in this state.

To help combat the ongoing epidemic, our most recent Behavioral Health Initiative awarded more than $2.5 million to projects addressing substance abuse. Here’s more about each of them:

Catholic Human Services, Inc. | Integrated Intervention for Parents with Addictions in the Child Welfare System | $449,411

Serving Alpena and Montmorency counties, this project will develop and implement an integrated intervention model to address substance abuse among parents of children in welfare system. An interdisciplinary care coordination team will work together to improve outcomes for these families, focusing on stable recovery from addiction and reunification or prevention of out-of-home placement. The care team will include a care coordinator, home-based family support workers, master’s level addiction therapists, addiction-trained medical providers, representatives of the legal system, and members of the recovery community.

D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s | Safe Passages | $287,327

This project aims to improve reunification rates of children in foster care whose parents are dealing with a substance use disorder. In partnership with Recovery Allies, Safe Passages connects biological parents with certified recovery coaches who act as a guide helping to navigate support services and the recovery process. In addition to helping Kent County families, the program could result in cost savings for the child welfare system.

Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) | Opioid Epidemic: Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment in an Office-Based Integrated Care Model

The HFHS program has three prongs: prevention, detection, and treatment. To help prevent substance use disorders, the program will train physicians and other clinical staff, as well as members of the public, on the appropriate use and prescription of opiates. Additionally, outpatient clinics in metro Detroit will screen patients who need opiates to determine their risk level for abuse, and will screen all patients over age 10 for use, abuse, or dependence on any substance. Third, the clinics will use an integrated behavioral healthcare model to treat substance use disorders through plans designed around an individual patient’s needs.

The Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI) | A Systems-Level Approach to Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome | $412,347

This program will support mothers and newborns struggling with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), caused when a newborn experiences withdrawal from a substance in the mother’s system during pregnancy. The program will consider the full continuum of intervention points: pre-pregnancy education and prevention; prenatal screening and referral for treatment as needed; testing for newborns, and the ongoing coordination and provision of care for both the child and family. The project will primarily serve Saginaw and Marquette counties, with training also taking place in the neighboring Upper Peninsula counties of Alger and Delta. From there, MPHI will develop a guide for other communities across Michigan, with the ultimate goal of refining treatment paths to better serve mothers and newborns.

Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center (UGL) | Integrating Michigan’s U.P Behavioral Health & Primary Care Services | $438,562

Combining the resources of two organizations, this project will provide comprehensive care to individuals who need treatment for substance use disorders. UGL brings experience as a Federally-Qualified Health Center delivering primary care, oral healthcare, and behavioral health services. Great Lakes Recovery Center has experience in substance use disorder treatment. Serving Marquette and Houghton counties, UGL and GLRC will work together to adopt systems-oriented practices and improve coordination and teamwork; screening and assessment; and intervention and care planning.

Wayne State University | High Touch – High Tech | $499,502

High Touch-High Tech from Wayne State will treat pregnant women struggling with addiction and depression. To increase integration of treatment services, the program will add a combination of interactive mobile technology and an infant mental health specialist into prenatal clinics. Two prenatal practices in northern Michigan (Grayling and Alpena) will pilot the program and use their experience to help guide future efforts and inform other care providers.

The programs above are innovative; many attend to prevention as well as treatment and each advances one of Health Fund’s cross-cutting goals: integrated care and workforce development. Still, they each take a different approach to fighting the opioid epidemic, and they each have a different geographic footprint. At the Health Fund, we understand no single model can solve opioid addiction for the entire state. Instead, we believe a multifaceted approach will help care providers across the state identify the strengths and challenges of different models. Together, we can learn to more effectively combat addiction and create a healthier Michigan.

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