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Wayne State University Stepping Up to Fight Opioid Addiction

December 1, 2016

Millions of American families wake each day to the stark realities of the opioid crisis. Since 2000, more than 500,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses, including a 14 percent increase in 2014 of opioid-related fatalities. President Obama and Michigan leaders, including Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, have made the opioid crisis one of their top priorities. President Obama challenged universities to accept a pledge to incorporate new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines into curriculums to better prepare health professionals on how to treat addiction and prescribe controlled substances.

Michael Botticelli, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, visited Wayne State University in September to discuss Opioid addiction. The event was hosted by former U.S. Senator Carl Levin. Doug Skrzyniarz from WSU Government Affairs and Jennifer Mendez from the WSU School of Medicine were also in attendance. 

Recently, the Levin Center and Wayne State University hosted a visit by Michael Botticelli, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He spoke to our health professional students on the importance of proper prescribing and treatment of patients who have or are experiencing addiction. By helping remove the stigma of addiction, physicians, pharmacists, nurses, social workers and other health care professionals can better encourage patients to seek help.

In response to President Obama’s challenge and Botticelli’s visit, Wayne State University signed the pledge to improve our curriculum related to addiction and the proper prescribing of controlled substances. We encourage the other universities in Michigan to join us in this pledge. Educators and health professionals must provide better leadership as part of the broader fight against opioid addiction.

To that end, Wayne State University is announcing the formation of a campus-wide task force to address this issue. Comprised of faculty leaders from our entire Health Sciences - - the College of Nursing, the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the School of Medicine, the School of Social Work, and representatives of the Office of the Provost and Community Affairs, the task force has already established guidelines that will inform curriculum changes and new programs. A few of these include:

  1. Recognize as a care professional one’s own limitations to managing complex cases and requiring an integrated team approach.
  2. Manage substance use disorder as a chronic disease.
  3. Apply a patient-centered care model to pain management and addiction-related care, including a holistic approach, listening to the patient, demonstrate effective motivational interviewing skills, communicate and involve a patient’s support system, share data and information with treatment team.
  4. Support access to medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorder, including Buprenorphine, an alternative treatment to Methadone that can be prescribed through a family doctor’s office.
  5. Demonstrate appropriate use of an integrated statewide prescription drug monitoring program.
  6. Educate providers on how to recognize their own stigma and bias, be cognizant of barriers to optimal care and take steps to address limitations in treatment modalities.
  7. Collaborate with law enforcement, judicial system and community agencies to ensure access to effective treatment services.

The health care system must become more coordinated and break down the silos between various care providers. Doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, et al., are equally important in treating addiction. If they work in a patient-centered, team-based approach, the person who wins is the patient.


Division of Government and Community Affairs
4092 Faculty Administration Building, 656 W. Kirby • Detroit, MI 48202
Tel: (313) 577-5284