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More than 20 million Americans are struggling with addiction, but there are only 4,400 addiction specialists to help them. Between May 20, 202021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drug overdose deaths in the United States exceeded 100,000 and in Michigan, there were 2,570 overdose deaths.

Dear Poland

Dear Poland

“Addiction is killing far more people than we like to acknowledge or have the means to acknowledge,” said Cara Poland, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at State University’s College of Human Medicine. of Michigan. “We know that most doctors only get two to 10 hours of education in addictions in medical school and their residency, and we’re doing something about that.”

In 2018, using $1.5 million in state opioid response funds, Poland and partners from MSU and Wayne State University created the Michigan Collaborative Addiction Resources and Education System. The MI CARES program guides and supports physicians through the Practice Pathway program for the subspecialty of addiction medicine.

“At the time, we were just a pilot program with a modest goal: to train half a dozen Michigan physicians as addiction specialists,” Poland said. “But word spread, and so far, nearly 500 doctors from 46 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have signed up for the training.”

Prior to 2019, Michigan had fewer than 200 physicians certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties to treat addiction with none practicing in the Upper Peninsula. With the help of MI CARES, these numbers are increasing. Now, there are an additional 115 physicians enrolled in the program in Michigan, including seven physicians from the Upper Peninsula.

The program has recently expanded to include students from Michigan State University’s Department of Human Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine and the College of Nursing. The MI CARES program is available to first-year medical students at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and as an elective for current students. Of the 36 first-year electives taught by Poland and Jamie Alan, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, all 36 said they would recommend the elective to a colleague.

With a second round of funding extending to September 2022, Poland is modifying the MI CARES curriculum so that other medical schools can use it in their programs. An important part of this is removing stigmas that place blame on substance use disorders or SUDs.

“Studies show that when we use the words ‘substance abuse’ in our notes, we literally provide worse care to our patients and when we use ‘substance use,’ we provide better care,” Poland said. “What easier way to provide better care than just changing the words we use?”

The hope is that training like the MI CARES program will reduce the stigma of SUDs and help doctors recognize that a patient with an SUD is just like any other patient with a chronic illness. For Poland, the issue of substance use disorder is more than a professional interest, it’s a personal one.

“My younger brother died as a result of his alcohol use disorder,” Poland said. “I was already becoming an addiction specialist, but his death ignited my fire. It used to be a job and now it’s my passion. It’s my life.”

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Source: Fighting Addiction and Eliminating the Stigma | MSU today

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