A$40,000 grant will help a West Michigan nonprofit form a new program to tackle opioid use disorder.
Holland-based Reach for Recovery Inc. received the $40,000 grant to launch a medication assisted treatment program for people with opioid use disorder in Grand Haven and Holland. The funds were granted by the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation.
Prior to the national increase in opioid use during the pandemic, Ottawa County’s Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) in 2018 identified opioid use disorder as a priority. The CHIP is a collaboration among a variety of Ottawa County organizations, said Holly Cole, Grand Haven Area Community Foundation’s vice president of grants and program.
“The 2018 CHIP in particular really highlighted the objective of decreasing the number of accidental deaths caused by an opioid involved overdose,” Cole said. “So that was the data that our community recognized when this particular grant came forward.”
Medication assisted treatment combines U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medication and behavioral therapy to help people struggling with opioid use disorder. The treatment normalizes brain chemistry and body functions without negative or euphoric effects, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
This type of program is expensive to launch as a nonprofit, but the grant will cover a substantial portion of Reach for Recovery’s costs, said Executive Director David Teater.
“Our biggest upfront cost, which their funding will help cover, is the electronic medical records and medical billing system that we need to support this service,” Teater said.
Many medical providers offer medication assisted treatment, but they are limited in the number of patients to which they can prescribe medication to treat opioid use disorder.
“As a result, there’s just never been enough around,” Teater said, adding that some other nonprofits in the area also provide medication assisted treatment.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported late last year that more than 900,000 Americans died from fatal drug overdoses between 1999 and 2020. Preliminary CDC data shows 100,000 more deaths are expected from 2021, according to the report.
Michigan overdose deaths increased by 16.3 percent in 2020 from 2019, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. The department reported 956 overdose deaths from January to April 2021, the most recent data available as of Feb. 7. That’s up from the April 2020 total of 827 overdose deaths.
People with opioid use disorder have likely lost resources — such as steady income or insurance — by the time they need help, Teater said. That’s where nonprofits like Reach for Recovery can help.
“We run a real lean operation and our goal is to break even every year,” Teater said. “When it comes time to launch a new program like this, it could save a bunch of lives, but it’s going to cost us $100,000 for a new medical record system. We can’t even think of doing something like that without support from an organization like the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation.”
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