Michigan's Response to the Opioid Epidemic

Note: The Michigan Health Policy Forum website provides several articles related to the topic of opioid addiction.


Michigan's Response to the Opioid Epidemic

The number of deaths due to drug overdose has more than doubled in the United States in the past 15 years. In many states, including Michigan, the number of deaths due to drug overdose exceeds the number of deaths due to traffic accidents. Michigan is not immune from this epidemic and ranks 18th among the 50 states for drug overdose deaths at a rate of 14.6 persons per 100,000 population. The Michigan Health Policy Forum has convened a panel of experts from the many professions that interface with individuals who are at high risk of drug overdose to examine steps that have been taken and can be taken to address this deadly epidemic.


1:00 P.M. Welcome, William Strampel DO, Dean, Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine

1:15 P.M.  Keynote Speaker

Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley

"The Policy Overview of the Opioid Epidemic"

1:45 P.M. Reactor Panel Presentations

  • Addiction Medicine: Cara Poland MD, President, Michigan Chapter of American Society of Addiction Medicine

  • Emergency Medicine: Rebecca Cunningham MD,  Director, Injury Research Center, University of Michigan

  • Judiciary: Honorable Donald L. Allen Jr., Chief Judge 55th District Court

  • Law Enforcement: Detective Lt. Andrew Fias, Michigan State Police

  • Legislative: State Representative Andy Schor, 68th House District

  • Pharmacy: Karen Jonas RPh, Pharmacy Consultant for Michigan Association of Health Plans

  • Primary Care: David Neff DO, MSUCOM Department of Family and Community Medicine

  • Public Health: Eden V. Wells MD, MPH, FACPM, MDHHS Chief Medical Executive

3:00 P.M. Break

3:15 P.M. Community Discussion, Facilitator: Tim Skubick, Senior Capitol Correspondent

4:00 P.M. Concluding Comments, Dennis Paradis MPH, Executive Director, Michigan Health Policy Forum

William Strampel


In addition to serving as dean of Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, William Strampel is a professor of internal medicine. Previously, Strampel served as the college's interim dean and the college's senior associate dean. He also is the lead medical director of MSU HealthTeam. Before coming to MSU, Strampel was a special assistant to the U.S. surgeon general for operations and readiness; he also served as chief medical officer for the Tricare Management Activity and as director of quality management in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Strampel was commander of the Brooke Army Medical Center and Great Plains Regional Medical Command, and was chief of the Quality Assurance Division, Department of the Army, Office of the Surgeon General. He also served in a number of capacities at hospitals in Colorado, Kansas, and Korea.

Lt. Governor Brian Calley

calleyThe youngest lieutenant governor in the country, Brian Calley is a forward-looking leader intent on building the best Michigan for everybody.

First elected as lieutenant governor in 2010, Calley has worked in partnership with Gov. Rick Snyder to play an integral role in Michigan’s comeback, combining skills acquired from an accomplished private sector career in the financial services industry with a heart for public service. A pragmatic and inclusive solutionist with a long-range vision, Calley approaches every issue with a focus on addressing the needs of current and future generations through positive advancements in public policy.

Continually referenced for redefining the role of lieutenant governor in Michigan, Calley’s hands-on approach helped guide two historic tax reforms through the Legislature that have expanded economic opportunity and served as a catalyst for private-sector job growth. He also worked to create a more customer service-friendly state government by spearheading Michigan’s “Good Government” initiative.

Calley is a tireless advocate for mental health in Michigan, working to ensure some of our most vulnerable citizens can live independent and self-determined lives. Calley chaired the Michigan Mental Health and Wellness Commission and leads the Michigan Diversion Council, developing and implementing strategies to improve outcomes for people with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities. He also is chairing the Prescription Drug and Opioid Task Force to address the growing problem of addiction in Michigan.

As lieutenant governor, he led the charge to increase access to autism services and to promote and expand inclusion in schools and communities for people with developmental differences. To ensure all Michiganders have the opportunity to succeed, Calley is raising awareness of the value of hiring Michiganders with disabilities. Through the MI Hidden Talent Tour, he is highlighting the extraordinary but often overlooked potential that exists within our workforce and equipping employers with the know-how and resources to successfully tap into the talent of all Michigan citizens.

Prior to serving as lieutenant governor, Calley served two terms in the Michigan House of Representatives and two terms as an Ionia County commissioner and worked for over a decade in community banking. Calley holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, an MBA from Grand Valley State University and an MPA from the John F.  Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Calley has been honored as one of Crain’s Detroit Business’ 40 under 40 and has received recognition for his leadership by organizations across the state, including the Small Business Association of Michigan, Special Olympics of Michigan, the Michigan Manufacturers Association and the Mental Health Association. He also has received national recognition from Autism Speaks and the US Junior Chamber, which named him one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans.  He and his wife Julie live in Portland with their three children: Collin, Reagan and Karagan.

Cara Poland, MD, M.Ed

polandCara Poland, MD, M.Ed was trained in internal medicine at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan and in addiction medicine at Boston Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts.  She has an interest in educating physicians and physicians-in-training to improve care for patients with substance abuse and alcohol disorders.  She is interested in medical student curriculum development and assessment, student well-being and identifying ways to improve the process of medical training.  She sits on the Board of Directors for the Red Project and multiple leadership boards of various professional societies such as the Midwest Society of General Internal Medicine and American Society of Addiction Medicine.  She is currently a physician at Spectrum Health’s Center for Integrative Medicine.

Rebecca Cunningham, M.D.

cunninghamDr. Cunningham is the Associate Chair for Research and Professor in the U-M Department of Emergency Medicine, Director of the CDC-funded U-M Injury Center, Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education of the U-M School of Public Health, and the Associate Director of the Flint Youth Violence Prevention Center. Her expertise is in ED-based research on substance use, violence, and other negative outcomes, particularly among children, and the development and application of behavioral interventions in the ED setting. In directing the Injury Center (one of nine centers in the nation), Dr. Cunningham conceptualizes, oversees, and guides the short and long-term missions of the Injury Center. She has led large multidisciplinary teams of investigators through the conduct of several R01 proposals, including longitudinal studies evaluating interventions, service utilization, and mental health outcomes among youth with assault-related injury (NIDA, Project FYI), and the subsequent five-year methodological cohort evaluation. In addition, Dr. Cunningham and her team have developed and successfully implemented behavioral interventions focused on reducing substance use among underage drinkers seeking ED care (NIAAA, Project U Connect) with a focus on cutting-edge technology-delivered interventions (Web based, text based, computer augmented). Dr. Cunningham was instrumental in the development of such global projects as the medical, nursing and post-graduate education of emergency medicine content in Ghana colleagues (Fogarty). 

View Website

Professor, Emergency Medicine

Associate Chair, Research

Director, Injury Research Center

Honorable Donald L. Allen Jr., 55th Judicial District Court, Chief Judge

allenThe Honorable Donald L. Allen, Jr.,  was  appointed judge of the 55th District Court by Governor Jennifer Granholm on December 22, 2008.  He was elected to the bench in 2010.  His current  term will expire on  December 31, 2016.  Judge Allen was appointed chief judge of the court by the Michigan Supreme Court on January 1, 2016. 

The Honorable Donald L. Allen, Jr., is a 1983 graduate of Wayne State University Law School and spent most of his professional career as an assistant attorney general in the Michigan  Department of Attorney General.  He served at the Department of  Attorney General from  February 1988 through September 2005.  In September 2005, he was appointed deputy legal counsel to Governor Granholm. On June 5, 2006, Judge Allen was appointed by Governor Granholm to serve as director of the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP).  Judge Allen served in that position until his appointment to the 55th District Court Bench.  Judge Allen is the presiding judge of Sobriety Court. Sobriety Court focuses on the rehabilitation of repeat offense substance  abusers.  Sobriety Court has changed hundreds of lives, saved tax dollars, and has been recognized for excellence.


· Lansing Black Lawyer's Association, Outstanding Barrister Award (2009) 

· Central Michigan Heritage Enterprise, Citizen of the Year Award (2011)

· Turning Point, Kevin D. Bibbs Citizenship Award (2013)

· Community Mental Health Authority, Distinguished Service Award (2015)

· Michigan Public Health, Jean Chabut Health Policy Champion (2016)  

Professional/Community Service:

· Okemos-Ingham Families Against Narcotics, President and Co-Founder 

· Mason Prescription Drug Task Force, Co-Founder

· American Bar Association Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs, Diversity Committee Chair

· Michigan Bar Association, Fellow

· Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program, Special Advisor

· Mason Promise Scholarship, Board Member

· Ingham Opioid Work Group

· Holt -South Lansing Rotary Club

· Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals

· Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity

· Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity

Andrew Fias, Michigan State Police - D/F/Lieutenant


D/F/Lt. Andy Fias has been with the Michigan State Police for 23 years and is assigned as the Section Commander at the West Michigan Enforcement Team (WEMET).  He began his career at the MSP Newaygo Post in 1994 as a Trooper.  In 2000, he transferred to the Metropolitan Enforcement Team investigating drug conspiracy crimes and worked on the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.   In 2003 he was promoted to detective sergeant and transferred to the MSP Hart Post.  In 2007 he transferred to WEMET.  He has held the ranks of Detective Sergeant, Detective Lieutenant, and Detective First Lieutenant while assigned to WEMET.

D/F/Lt. Fias has investigated thousands of narcotic related cases, resulting in successful prosecutions.  He has interviewed thousands of individuals involved in the drug trade.  He has experience with all levels of narcotic trafficking, from street level dealers to multi-kilogram level distributors.  He has provided expert testimony in several west Michigan courtrooms.

D/F/Lt. Fias is a primary instructor for Michigan State Police Trooper Recruit Schools and task forces for narcotic related training. 

Karen Jonas

fiasKaren Jonas currently works as a pharmacy consultant with the Michigan Association of Health Plans (MAHP); she has served in this role for two years. Prior to joining MAHP, Jonas spent 10 years with the Michigan Pharmacists Association, serving in the roles as Director of Professional Practice and the Director of Governmental Affairs. Before working in association management, Jonas owned and operated her own consulting company for 15 years and working with long term care, assisted living and intermediate care facilities as well as several county mental health agencies. Jonas is a 1987 graduate of Ferris State University College of Pharmacy.

David Neff

fiasDr. David Neff has been involved with large scale planning programs to address population health related issues in the areas of cardiovascular disease, diabetes management and opioid addiction since 2000. He has been studying the Opioid Mortality Crisis since 2010 and has been a member of the Michigan Osteopathic Association’s Presidential Ad Hoc Committee to address the crisis since it was formed in February, 2015. He has been instrumental in developing the MOA’s two-pronged strategy of addressing the crisis with 1) activating its own membership and 2) working closely in a cross-functional manner with key stakeholder groups across Michigan. The initiative was recently recognized by the Michigan Society of Association Executives with the Diamond Achievement Award for Best Governmental Relations Project on combating the opioid crisis through provider education programs, conducting a Town Hall event with key members of the Governor’s Task Force, it’s leadership on legislation and raising awareness through newsletters and social media.

Dr. Neff is currently a fulltime consultant for Office of Medical Affairs within the Medical Services Administration in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services after retiring from Merck and Company in 2014 as a Strategy Leader in Global Medical Affairs. He actively sees patients including those with recalcitrant chronic pain and/or opioid addiction. Dr. Neff attended Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in physiology in 1976. Additional post graduate studies included lipid biochemistry, neuroscience & systems science. He graduated from the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM) in 1980. He completed an undergraduate fellowship in Clinical Biomechanics and Osteopathic Manual Medicine. He has been on the clinical faculty at MSUCOM in the Department of Family and Community Medicine since 1981. He is board certified in Family Medicine. He is former Director of Pharmaceutical Studies in the Office of Research at Michigan State University. Since his retirement from Merck, he still retains an active research interest in cardiovascular genomics and bioinformatics. He has been a member of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians (ACOFP), the American Osteopathic Association of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM), the American Heart Association (AHA), the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the National Lipid Association (NLA), the American Society for Quality (ASQ), the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) and the American Osteopathic Association of Medical Informatics (AOAMI).

Eden V. Wells, MD, MPH, FACPM, MDHHS Chief Medical Executive

Image of Eden Well, MDEden V. Wells, MD, MPH, FACPM, was appointed as the Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in May 2015, and serves Michigan citizens by providing professional medical leadership, expertise and coordination in addressing public health issues, workforce issues, and health policy development. Dr. Wells was with the Bureau of Epidemiology, Michigan Department of Community Health, serving as medical consultant to the Bureau and medical epidemiologist from 2004-2011. MDCH activities included investigation of, and response to, public health incidents, and outbreaks, as well as preparedness planning for potential bioterrorism and pandemic influenza events.
Dr. Wells most recently was a Clinical Associate Professor, Epidemiology, and the Director for the Preventive Medicine Residency at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Board-certified in Internal and Preventive Medicine. Current activities involved curriculum development, teaching, and applied public health practice training within the preventive medicine program. Research and practice activities included work in disaster epidemiology, and development and evaluation of surveillance for emerging infectious disease threats.

Reports and Resources

  1. Opiods linked with deaths other than overdoses, study says
  2. Hospital's new opiod policy addresses gap highlighted by ex-addict's harrowing odyssey
  3. This new street drug is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, and now it's showing up in Canada and the U.S.
  4. Senate takes step forward on opiod bill
  5. Michigan Physician Leads AAFP's New Opiod CME Webcast
  6. Congress eyes $1 billion to aid at-risk families
  7. Medication Sharing, Storage, and Disposal Practices for Opioid Medications Among US Adults
  8. Heroin addiction requires comprehensive action
  9. Don't throw out compassion in the war against opioid abuse
  10. Drug That Killed Prince Is Making Mexican Cartels Richer, U.S. Says
  11. I'm a recovering addict. So why did my doctors give me opioids and leave me on my own?
  12. Prescriptions for opioids fall in Ohio, but addiction continues to kill at alarming rates
  13. Growing Number of States Enacting Laws to Combat the Heroin and Opioid Crisis
  14. Advocates fear more heroin withdrawal deaths in jails
  15. Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority–Helps to Save Lives
  16. Congress Splits Over Bill Aimed at Nation’s Opioid Epidemic
  17. Heroin Use at 20-Year High in U.S. Drug ‘Epidemic’, U.N. Says
  18. Doctors Wrestle With Mixed Messages on Opioid Prescribing
  19. Illinois' Heroin Crisis Act a model for other states
  20. Heroin's one-two punch
  21. Drug overdose deaths taxing US medical examiners and coroners
  22. Lesser-Known Opioid Adverse Effects
  23. Gov. Rick Snyder creates commission to help curb prescription drug and opioid abuse in Michigan
  24. In States, Some Resistance to New Opioid Limits
  25. USDA chief Tom Vilsack targets rural opioid problem
  26. Getting overdose antidote with painkillers may cut ER visits
  27. Can You Get Over an Addiction?
  28. Senators Hatch and Wyden: Do your jobs and release the sealed opioids report
  29. Panel to tackle Michigan's opioid abuse epidemic
  30. Implementation Of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Associated With Reductions In Opioid-Related Death Rates
  31. Heroin use at 20-year high in U.S. drug 'epidemic', U.N. says
  32. Controlling Rising Drug Costs
  33. ‘You are a coward’: Hate and misperceptions about substance abuse are broader than I thought
  34. New York sets 7-day limit on initial opioid prescriptions
  35. A Small Town Bands Together To Provide Opioid Addiction Treatment
  36. A Systems Approach Is The Only Way To Address The Opioid Crisis
  37. When Addiction Has a White Face
  38. I am a doctor, but I didn't cause the opioid epidemic
  39. Drugmakers, allies fight efforts to limit opioid prescriptions
  40. 6 Ways to Fight America’s Heroin Epidemic
  41. Pharma lobbying held deep influence over opioid policies
  42. Pro-painkiller echo chamber shaped policy amid drug epidemic
  43. Hospitals try to heal, soothe growing number of babies with drug dependency
  44. Ohio at epicenter of heroin epidemic killing thousands
  45. Searching for naloxone to cure a heroin overdose? The FDA wants an app for that.
  46. DEA head: Heroin crisis won't be solved just by throwing addicts in prison
  47. Number of U.S. railroad workers testing positive for drug use skyrockets
  48. Exclusive: Obama administration to launch new effort on heroin crisis
  49. Greater Share of U.S. Workers Testing Positive for Illicit Drugs
  50. Opioid epidemic’s hidden hazard: SWAT officers treated for fentanyl exposure during drug raid
  51. Opioid Abuse: The Economic Burden on Payers
  52. Managing the Complexities of Prescription Opioid Misuse and Overuse
  53. Hacking A Solution To Boston's Opioid Crisis
  54. Study: Health Spending Related To Opioid Treatment Rose More Than 1,300 Percent
  55. Heroin Is Being Laced With a Terrifying New Substance: What to Know About Carfentanil
  56. Gov. Rick Snyder makes appointments to the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Commission
  57. Senate-passed bills protect drug users seeking medical help
  58. Calling 9-1-1 to report an overdose? This bill would protect you from drug charges
  59. Drug overdose deaths rising in Michigan
  60. Lansing police: Heroin-related deaths outpace homicides and fatal car wrecks
  61. Understanding Addiction
  62. Providing A Safe Space And Medical Monitoring To Prevent Overdose Deaths
  63. Ohio county offers immunity to those turning in deadly drugs
  64. Drug Linked to Ohio Overdoses Can Kill in Doses Smaller than a Snowflake
  65. Chronic Pain Management Therapies in Medicaid: Policy Considerations for Non-Pharmacological Alternatives to Opioids
  66. The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report
  67. Trolling for drugs in a California ‘Heroin Alley’
  68. Nurses Step In to Boost Treatment for Opioid Addiction
  69. Treating pain without feeding addiction: Study shows promise of non-drug pain management
  70. University of Michigan Injury Center Opioid Overdose Summit
  71. Doctors Will Play a Critical Role in the Opioid Epidemic
  72. ‘America’s Other Drug Problem’: Copious Prescriptions For Hospitalized Elderly
  73. Surgeon General Writes to Every Doctor in U.S. About Opioid Epidemic
  74. Dozens of Ohio overdoses blamed on heroin mixed with elephant tranquilizer
  75. Illegal street drugs, not prescriptions, now powering opioid abuse, study finds
  76. In Boston’s ‘Safe Space,’ Surprising Insights Into Drug Highs
  77. Seattle’s Potential Solution for Heroin Epidemic: Places for Legal Drug Use
  78. Letter from US Surgeon General
  79. Strapped towns in southeast Colorado struggle to fight heroin’s spread
  80. 26 overdoses in just hours: Inside a community on the front lines of the opioid epidemic
  81. Map: Addiction’s deadly trail
  82. Amid opioid crisis, few doctors use Michigan’s outdated drug monitoring tool