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Michigan OPEN

A New OPEN: The Overdose Prevention Engagement Network

Feb 5, 2024

OPEN + MOC: One team, moving forward. 

This year, the Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network and the Michigan Opioid Collaborative have integrated to create the Overdose Prevention Engagement Network (OPEN). The new OPEN will focus on supporting community and healthcare organizations through the key pillars of prevention, treatment, and recovery. “The integration of our two teams offers an exciting opportunity to expand our reach and connect prevention and pain management with substance use treatment and recovery – a space very much in need of evidence and resources,” said Beth Seese, OPEN’s Program Director.

The Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network formed in 2016 to change the trajectory of the opioid epidemic by focusing on the pillars of education, resources, and engagement. This work allowed for the development of evidence-based opioid prescribing recommendations, educational resources for community and healthcare organizations, and supported biannual Take Back Events. The Michigan Opioid Collaborative (MOC) formed in 2017 as a response to a lack of accessible opioid use disorder treatment in Michigan. MOC supported prescribers across the state with implementing Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) in office-based settings, hosted educational webinars, and embedded Behavioral Health Consultants regionally to keep abreast of local treatment landscapes.

Collaboration is at the core of the new OPEN team. As a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, nurses, behavioral health consultants, researchers, analysts, recovery coordinators, and communication specialists, we are committed to providing tangible resources to the wide variety of like-minded partners working to elevate the harms of substance use. “I hope that between the amazing programs and services we have to offer and the boots on the ground role the BHCs have in each region, we are able to help and provide assistance to those who need it most! Our free consultation service is so unique and has expanded. I hope to see more acute care providers engaging with our on-call providers,” concluded Clinical Implementation Manager Sarah Evilsizer. 

New and Expanded Programming

The new OPEN’s provider support services include same day consultations, a wide variety of substance use education and trainings, and continued evidence-based iterations of the opioid prescribing and counseling recommendations. OPEN’s community support offers patient and provider education, safe storage and disposal resources – both educational as well as physical products, and overdose rescue resources and training. Co-Director Amy Bohnert, Ph.D., M.H.S., said that this new focus will create “better integration of efforts all directed at reducing the harms of opioids in communities and improving care.”

“We all have this great opportunity to learn from one another. This merger is a chance to learn outside of our areas of expertise and bring our experience together to see where we all fit. I think that it really can only help more people, which is the goal at the end of the day,” said Ashley Bushner, Administrative Coordinator. The new OPEN team is excited to bring together the strengths of our groups and expand our resources, reach, and expertise in the SUD treatment space. Melissa DeMarse, a Behavioral Health Consultant at OPEN, added “Bringing together people with expertise in areas of prevention, treatment, and recovery will only strengthen and expand our resources and services and allow us to serve a broader range of people and organizations.”

Early Success

Since officially merging in January, OPEN has released a new resource: Fentanyl Test Strips Pocket Guide; and three new programs: Consultation Services, Free Naloxone Vending Machine and Distribution Boxes, and Safe Storage with Locking Pill Bottles. OPEN hosted a webinar titled “Kratom 101” on January 26th, which was a success! Nearly 400 attendees learned what kratom is and why people use it, reviewed how to treat patients with kratom misuse, and went through the clinical effects of kratom intoxication and withdrawal. OPEN has two MOUD training sessions scheduled for February 26th and March 6th, as well as a number of substance use related educational events planned for the year.

Engagement with the community is a core value for OPEN. We cultivate and foster connections with a range of communities – medical, institutional, regional, cultural, and beyond. Reaching far and wide, we share actionable education with diverse audiences. “I believe our shared expertise and experience that is distinct and complementary will position us well to make a positive impact in the care of individuals and prevention of opioid-related harms in our communities. Looking ahead, I look forward to continuing our collaborative work, reflecting on our successes together, and planning for future projects,” said OPEN Co-Director Dr. Jennifer Waljee, MD, MPH, MS. 

OPEN aspires to be a familiar name to all Michiganders, as people are at the center of everything we do. Our purpose is human. We aim to minimize stigma and create better outcomes for everyone.