Maximizing Michigan’s opioid settlement funds: A strategic approach for recovery

March 19, 2024

Opioids spilled over settlement moneyIn response to the opioid epidemic’s devastating impact, the Michigan Opioid Partnership asked the Center for Health and Research Transformation (CHRT) to speak with members of the substance use disorder recovery support community to gather suggestions for the investment of Michigan’s state and local opioid settlement funds.

As Michigan anticipates receiving over $1.5 billion from opioid settlements, there is an urgent need for strategic allocation to combat the epidemic that has taken the lives far too many Michiganders.

Highlighting lessons learned from the nation’s tobacco master settlement agreement, CHRT’s report “Gaps and Opportunities for Substance Use Disorder Recovery: Considerations for spending opioid settlement funds” underscores the importance of structuring investments to foster tangible, long-lasting public health benefits.

The report found that key considerations for state and local leaders include:

  1. Addressing Underfunded Recovery Services: Recovery service providers, particularly in areas of housing, compensation for peer support workers, and essential services like transportation and stable housing, face substantial funding challenges. Strategic grants and planning are vital for closing these gaps.
  2. Expanding the Workforce: There’s a pressing shortage of SUD therapists, counselors, and peer support workers. Investments in job training, certification programs, and improving compensation can help alleviate this bottleneck.
  3. Promoting Harm Reduction: Widening the implementation of harm reduction strategies, such as syringe exchange programs, can significantly mitigate the risks associated with substance use. Local statute updates and community education are necessary steps to enhance these life-saving measures.
  4. Combating Stigma: Addressing the pervasive stigma surrounding substance use disorder is crucial for advancing recovery efforts. State-developed anti-stigma materials, combined with local education campaigns, can foster a more supportive environment for recovery.
  5. Supporting Individuals in the Criminal Justice System: Strengthening treatment and recovery options within jails, prisons, and community reentry programs is essential for reducing the risk of overdose and supporting ongoing recovery.

The below details these findings and more, and provides suggestions on how this research can be used to mitigate the opioid crisis in Michigan.