June 18, 2019

Wayne State to receive $1.5 million grant to address opioid addiction in jails; Social Work Dean Sheryl Kubiak to lead 16-month project

(From left to right) Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Sheryl Kubiak, dean of the Wayne State School of Social Work and director of the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Opioid Partnership announced a unique strategy that combines public and private funds to support innovative and evidence-based treatment programs for people with opioid use disorder. Called a "no wrong door approach," the strategy removes the barriers to entry for those needing treatment for opioid addiction and helps them get on a path to successful recovery.

The Michigan Opioid Partnership is a public-private collaborative with a mission to decrease opioid overdoses and deaths through prevention, treatment, harm reduction and sustained recovery. The partnership is made up of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation, The Jewish Fund, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and the Superior Health Foundation.

Grants announced today during a news conference held at Wayne State University,will fund planning, training and coordination of treatment for opioid use disorder. The collaborative will make funds available to support the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT), from the first point of medical contact in a hospital or emergency room to continued treatment in a community-based program. Funds will also assist jails using a continuity of care approach focused on long-term treatment of opioid use disorder. MAT is an evidence-based treatment for opioid addiction that usually includes both medication and behavioral therapy. 

“Opioid overdoses and deaths have hurt families all over Michigan,” said Whitmer. “The number of annual opioid-related overdose deaths in the state has more than tripled since 2011, with 2,053 opioid overdoses in 2017 alone. If we’re going to tackle the opioid crisis and get Michigan families on track to recovery, we need to build strong partnerships between state government, philanthropy, and the medical community. I’m grateful for this partnership and am ready to work with this team and everyone else who wants to reduce opioid deaths here in Michigan.”

Continuing the “no wrong door approach” for Michigan, $1.5 million of the funds will be committed to expanding medication-assisted treatment and enhance identification of substance use disorders at jail intake.  Wayne State University, Center for Behavioral Health and Justice will receive a grant to coordinate the effort.  County jails will also be selected for funding, to work in partnership with the WSU team to serve inmates with addiction. 

The 16-month project will build a lasting partnership between the criminal justice and substance abuse treatment communities.  The plan is to accomplish this by supporting county-level implementation coupled with data-driven technical assistance to demonstrate need and generate solutions that will increase access to needed treatment. Once trained, community stakeholders will use administrative data to assess the success of their invention, as well as improve the quality of data within each county. 

“Enhancing continuity of care to include jails will assist individuals with opioid use disorder in either continuing or beginning MAT within the jail,” stated Sheryl Kubiak, dean of the Wayne State School of Social Work and director of the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice. “Interfacing with the jail provides another important opportunity for intervention in our communities and reduces the likelihood individual’s with opioid use disorders will return to jail. We are committed to improving the lives of those who reside in Michigan.”

Two hospital systems across the state will receive grants to pilot projects designed to help change the culture in hospitals and emergency rooms to better combat the opioid epidemic. Beaumont Hospital in southeast Michigan and Munson Medical Center in Northern Lower Michigan have been selected to receive funds for pilot projects that utilize medication-assisted treatment in partnership with outpatient treatment providers. The grants total over $1.3 million. Additional hospital grants are expected to be announced in the coming months.

In 2017, drug overdoses killed nearly 2,700 people in Michigan, with 2,053 of those deaths attributed to opioids, according to the latest MDHHS statistics. According to a Centers for Disease Control report, overall drug overdose deaths in Michigan exceeded traffic and gun deaths combined in 2017.

Medication-assisted treatment involves utilizing U.S. Drug Administration-approved drugs to treat addiction. While they have been shown to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms and prevent overdose, the drugs are difficult to access. Efforts across the country, including California and Massachusetts have found success initiating medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder in emergency rooms in tandem with a warm handoff to continued outpatient medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapy. Results of this culture change have shown to reduce relapse and overdose. 

“The Michigan Opioid Partnership is working to support emerging ideas to help solve the opioid crisis,” Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan said. “Serving addiction innovatively in hospital emergency rooms and in county jails can help set the foundation for what is possible across the state.”  

About the Michigan Opioid Partnership: A public-private collaborative including the state of Michigan and key nonprofit funders, the Michigan Opioid Partnership’s mission is to decrease Michigan opioid overdoses and deaths through prevention, treatment, harm reduction and sustained recovery. The partnership is made up of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation, The Jewish Fund, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and the Superior Health Foundation. The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is the administrative home for the partnership through a shared leadership model. For more information about the Michigan Opioid Partnership, visit CFSEM.org/opioid.