Drug grant will help county expand recovery services, save lives

By: Julie Snyder | C&G Newspapers | Published May 15, 2017

Shutterstock image


MACOMB COUNTY — On the afternoon of May 9, two Richmond men, one driving and the other a passenger, lost consciousness while their car traveled along eastbound Interstate 94 in Harrison Township.

According to witnesses, the vehicle was seen swerving at the Metropolitan Parkway exit before it struck a guardrail and a roadside sign and landed in a ditch near Joy Road.

A report released by Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham states that when deputies arrived at the scene at approximately 1:30 p.m., the men, both in their 20s, were unresponsive. Evidence at the scene indicated that the condition of the men was the result of drug use.

Already trained in the use of Narcan, a nasal form of naloxone used to treat opioid overdoses, deputies administered the medication and both men became responsive. They were then transported to a local hospital for further treatment.

At press time, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office was determining if there will be any criminal charges brought against the men.

Wickersham said that since May 2015, when deputies first began carrying Narcan in their patrol cars, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office has saved more than 75 lives.

Also in 2015, Macomb County experienced nearly 200 opioid-related deaths, according to Macomb County Community Mental Health, or MCCMH.

In 2016, almost 60 percent of MCCMH’s treatment admissions were due to opioids, and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS, rates rose more than 1,500 percent in Michigan between 2000 and 2013.

In light of these statistics, MCCMH recently received a substance abuse prevention and treatment grant totaling $1 million from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“These programs will allow us to expand services, which will provide new levels of support so we can help people recover from substance abuse disorders and ultimately save lives,” said Helen Klingert, assistant director of substance abuse at MCCMH.

The grant will expand peer recovery services and provide community education on prescription drug and opioid prevention, Klingert said. Specialized services for pregnant women who use opioids will also be broadened in order to improve outcomes for families affected by NAS.

According to the report released by MCCMH, two programs will directly focus on using peer resources for recovery. A program that addresses opioid overdose recovery will target individuals at local emergency rooms who have opioid use and overdose issues.

CARE of Southeastern Michigan, a Macomb County Office of Substance Abuse partner, will provide trained peer recovery coaches at emergency rooms of St. John Macomb Hospital in Warren and Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township to reduce recurrence rates of drug overdoses. Individuals who experience or have experienced substance abuse will receive recovery coaching and be connected to support services, the report states.

In addition, the Drug Court Peer Recovery Support Program will fund one peer recovery coach each at the 39th District Court’s Sobriety Court in Roseville and the 40th District Court’s Drug Court in St. Clair Shores. The goals of the program are to increase the number of drug court program graduates, reduce re-entry into the court system, and provide support and coaching to drug court participants to encourage recovery.

The Prescription Drug and Opioid Prevention Program will allow MCCMH to develop a community awareness campaign and education, and to equip opioid users and their families with skills to identify and respond to an overdose with Narcan. To date, 20 MCCMH clients have been saved by Narcan treatments.

MCCMH will also enhance current efforts to provide specialized services for substance abuse for families affected by NAS, which happens when a baby is exposed to drugs in the womb before birth. A baby can then go through drug withdrawal treatment after birth. Clients will receive help from outreach specialists who work with hospital staff at Henry Ford Macomb on coordinating prenatal appointments and referrals, substance abuse treatment, residential treatment services, educational services, medication-assisted treatment and case management.

“Having the hospital on board and welcoming helps improve outcomes, because often there is much stigma and shame directed toward families challenged with NAS,” said Klingert.

Narcan is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of an opioid emergency such as an overdose or even a possible opioid overdose with signs of breathing problems and severe sleepiness or not being able to respond.

For more information about Macomb County Community Mental Health, visit mccmh.net.