New partnership formed to address opioid addiction in Michigan

GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT)- (12/12/18) - Fentanyl is now the deadliest drug in America with over 18,000 overdose deaths in 2016.

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Federal health officials made that announcement Wednesday.

More than 63,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those are staggering numbers across the country and in Michigan.

"Overdoses are rampant here in Michigan. In fact, the number of opioid deaths last year exceeded the number of motor vehicle accident and gun deaths combined," said Becky Cienki of the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is part of a new collaboration with a goal of a decreasing the number of opioid overdoses and deaths in the state.

"It's bringing together a group of funders to support entry individuals toward dealing with addiction," Cienki said.

The Michigan Opioid Partnership, which includes the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, will distribute $2.6 million in grants to communities across the state with a focus on medication assisted treatments.

"So medicated assisted treatment really combines medication with counseling and behavioral health services in order to provide care to a whole person and enter into treatment, " Cienki said.

The program, open to people regardless of income of insurance status, will be looking at communities with the biggest need, ones that can form partnerships with hospitals and other outpatient treatment centers.

"In Genesee County alone, last year, there were a hundred and 60 drug overdose deaths just that one county, and of those 80 percent were opioid related. So we know that opioids are having a tremendous impact on the Genesee Community and many others," Cienki said.

The program is expected to launch in 2019.

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