Opinion: Michigan's three research universities fight the opioid crisis
Michigan’s three research universities presidents, M. Roy Wilson, Wayne State, Mark S. Schlissel, University of Michigan, and Samuel L. Stanley Jr., Michigan State, co-wrote an opinion piece about efforts among the University Research Corridor (URC) institutions to address the opioid crisis. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 2,033 people in Michigan died of overdose deaths involving opioids in 2017, a rate of 21.2 deaths per 100,000 persons, higher than the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000. Michigan now ranks in the top third nationally for drug-related deaths, with over half due to synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl. If Michigan is to reduce those numbers and save lives, it must continue to look for innovative and research-driven ways to take action. That’s why the three major state universities that make up Michigan’s URC have won millions of dollars in competitive federal funds and other grants to train more physicians and counselors statewide to become addiction medicine specialists who can treat patients. Researchers at the three universities also are investigating new ways to keep opioid users who have kicked the habit from taking up the drug again; addressing opioid addiction in jails; finding better ways to treat chronic back pain to lessen reliance on opioids; working with the administration of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to develop a medical provider toolkit to help doctors follow safer opioid prescribing practices; and launching a free online course for health and social services professionals and graduate students examining ways to deal with the opioid epidemic through prevention, intervention, education and policy. As medical doctors and researchers, this is a cause we must win. We are pledging our three URC universities to the fight.
January 16, 2020