Opioid Drugs

Recent reports show that the number of organ transplants is rising. While this may be good news to those on an organ waitlist, the reason for the rise — opioid overdose deaths — is troubling.

Dr. Michael Englesbe is a transplant surgeon and an associate professor of transplant surgery at the University of Michigan. He joined Stateside to share his perspective on the opioid crisis.  

The governor has a stack of bills aimed at combating the opioid crisis headed to his desk. Lawmakers in the House and Senate passed bipartisan legislation Wednesday. A major goal is limiting the amount of opioids available to people who don’t need them.

Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren) sponsored a bill in the package. That bill is aimed at curbing “doctor shopping.” It would require patients have a bona-fide relationship with a doctor who prescribes an opiate.

Michigan has a fierce fight on its hands. A fight to keep people out of the clutches of opioid and heroin addiction. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services offers some stunning numbers that show how badly this fight is going. 

In 1999 there were 99 heroin or opioid overdose deaths. In 2014, that number climbed to 1,001. 

That's 10 times as many deaths in just 15 years.

“I remember looking at some of the early federal reports involving opioid pain killers and overdose deaths and they had increased so rapidly, when I was looking at the data I was convinced someone had put a decimal point in the wrong place,” Dr. Andrew Kolodny said.

Kolodny is a senior scientist at Brandeis University and executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. He spent time working in addiction medicine in New York City during the early 2000s.

“The sharp increase was very real and what we would ultimately come to recognize is that we were at the beginning of a new, very severe epidemic,” Kolodny said.

It's become clear that America is in the grips of an opioid addiction epidemic.

But here's a dilemma: what if you're in pain? Is there a way to help patients get relief from pain without resorting to powerful pain medicines that can get you addicted?

A new study indicates the answer could be yes, through something called ImPAT, or Improving Pain during Addiction Treatment. 

"Minding Michigan" is Stateside's ongoing series that examines mental health issues in our state. 

In 2014, Michigan became the first state to create a set of detailed guidelines for treating people addicted to heroin and other opioid drugs. 

The guidelines were praised by many in the treatment community as being clear, understandable and taking addiction treatment in Michigan to the next level.

Dr. Corey Waller is the doctor who wrote those guidelines. 

Some cities have been looking at a program that takes a different approach to people with addictions who sometimes have run-ins with the law.

In Michigan, Escanaba is trying the new approach. It's called the ANGEL Program.

Escanaba City Manager Jim O'Toole​ joined us to talk about it.

The eighth annual Muslim Mental Health Conference is taking place in Dearborn this week with a wide range of topics on the schedule. Everything from Islamophobia and extremism to interfaith training for people who are working with American Muslim families will be discussed.

Michigan has a growing problem with what's called "uncoordinated prescription opioid use," and it's putting hundreds of patients at risk.

“In Michigan we went from 81 deaths in 1999 to 519 deaths in 2013 from opioids,” said Marianne Udow-Phillips from the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation.

A new report from CHRT finds that most opioids are used and prescribed appropriately, but a small number of patients receive numerous prescriptions from separate prescribers within a short period of time.