Tag Archives: children

Business communities can help end the addiction crisis

Crain Content Studio, the marketing-storytelling arm of Crain’s Detroit Business, worked with Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation to convene, moderate and report on a roundtable discussion among experts in education, medicine and government about the problem of addiction among young people. The discussion took place on Jan. 16, 2019 and was originally published on crainsdetroit.com on March 11, 2019.

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency when 11.4 million people reported misusing opioids and 47,600 people died from opioid overdoses.

In Michigan, 1,941 people died from opioid overdoses that year, a 13.9 percent increase over the number of opioid deaths in the state in 2016, reports the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Addiction is rampant in our society. According to the Center on Addiction, one in four Americans who began using any addictive substance before age 18 is addicted. Still, substance abuse experts are waging an uphill battle against the stigma surrounding addiction, describing a deep-seated culture of shame and fear that prevents parents, schools, and business leaders from engaging in meaningful dialogue on the subject.

The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation in Detroit is trying to erase this stigma and change the culture and conversation around addiction and recovery.

As part of its efforts, the Foundation partnered with Crain Content Studio, the marketing-storytelling arm of Crain’s Detroit Business, to unite parents and experts from government, academic, and medical fields to discuss prescription drug addiction and how businesses can play a part in ending the crisis.

“Most of our initiatives for adolescents and young adults tend to be in mental health and in opioids and addiction. We strive to be a catalyst for change,” said Lawrence J. Burns, President and CEO of Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation. The $120 million independent nonprofit partners with more than 40 organizations to further its efforts to help children and young adults.

Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation has partnered with Detroit Red Wings announcer Ken Daniels and Lisa Daniels, who formed The Jamie Daniels Foundation in memory of their son, who died of an opioid overdose in 2016. The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation will help The Jamie Daniels Foundation with fund development, financial management and generating awareness about opioid abuse. The Daniels’ foundation provides resources and support to the increasing numbers of people battling addiction.

Wreaking havoc on families and businesses

Ken Daniels once saw a billboard that rang all too true. It read: “The brain isn’t the only organ impacted by addiction. It also breaks hearts.”

Daniels and his family are well acquainted with the heartbreaking consequences of youth drug addiction, a widespread problem as devastating as it is complex. Jamie Daniels was a smart kid. He did well in school and had a family and friends who loved him.

And yet at age 15, Jamie deliberately faked symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and failed clinical tests to obtain a prescription for Adderall, the stimulant drug used to treat the condition, said his mother, Lisa.

Though she harbored grave doubts about her son’s diagnosis and need for Adderall, Lisa followed professional recommendations, carefully dispensing the medication to Jamie at the prescribed dosage. “I thought I was in control of it,” she said.Source: National Institutes of Health-funded study by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan

TEEN DRUG MISUSE

Percent of the estimated 3.6 million U.S. high school seniors who misused prescription and over-the-counter drugs in 2018:
5 percent: Sedatives, such as Valium and Xanax
4.6 percent: Adderall
3.4 percent: Opioids, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin
3.4 percent: Cough/cold medicine
0.9 percent: Ritalin, a stimulant used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Source: National Institutes of Health-funded study by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan

While attending Michigan State University, Jamie began abusing opioids as well as Adderall and other drugs. 

Jamie eventually completed two stints in rehab with his parents’ support. He moved into a sober living home in Florida and was under a physician’s care for depression and anxiety, conditions common in people suffering from addiction.

Until he was convinced by an acquaintance to switch to a less reputable recovery facility and doctor, Jamie was clean and on the road to recovery.

Less than two weeks after making the switch, 23-year-old Jamie died from an overdose of heroin laced with Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times stronger than heroin.

“There is a hole in my family’s heart that will never be filled,” said Ken Daniels. “And in the time we’re sitting here, we’ll lose eight more people (to addiction). So, we have to continue to talk about it. We need to talk about this in the home. We need to talk about it in the schools and at work; and hopefully in the long term, we can end this crisis.”

Young adults aged 18 to 25 comprise the largest segment of the population misusing and abusing prescription drugs, such as opioids.

But drug addiction doesn’t just impact families. Opioid addictions, specifically, cost businesses, educational and social institutions, criminal justice systems, and health care organizations billions of dollars yearly.

Altarum, an Ann Arbor-based nonprofit health research institute, estimates the economic burden of opioid addiction:

  • $800,000 per opioid overdose death in lost earnings and productivity
  • $1 trillion in costs to individuals, businesses and governments since 2001
  • $215.7 billion in health care costs for emergency and ongoing care from 2001 to 2017

In addition, employees with substance-use disorders miss an average 14.8 days of work a year — almost 50 percent more days of work than the typical employee average of 10.5 days, according to the National Safety Council. And about 70 percent of U.S. employers in construction, entertainment, recreation, and food service industries employ twice the average number of workers with substance use disorders than employers in other industries.

Equal-opportunity killer

Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation and its more than 40 partners are strategizing ways to end the addiction crisis. Solutions include ending the social stigma associated with addiction and recovery.

Despite the availability of accurate information, the perception persists that addiction is the result of an inherent character flaw, moral failing, or conscious decision and affects only a certain segment of society.“Nobody goes into their first use thinking, ‘Someday I’m going to be an alcoholic,’ or ‘Someday I’m going to abuse drugs,’” said Brian Spitsbergen, director of Community Relations for Growth Works Inc., a Plymouth-based facility that provides substance dependency and abuse treatments and solutions for adults and youth.

“There’s no one path to recovery that’s going to work for everybody, because every person is different and every brain is different,” Smith-Butterwick said. “So we are trying to do as many different things as we can to reach as many different parts of the population as we can.”

In 2017, Michigan lawmakers enacted opioid-related legislation that includes requiring the Michigan Department of Education, with direction from the Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Commission, to provide school districts with models for how to instruct students on the dangers of prescription opioid abuse.

The American Medical Association classifies addiction as a disease, and its task force reports that people who misuse and abuse opioids suffer from a chronic medical condition, like type-2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

Dennis Martell, director of Health Promotion at Michigan State University, added that addiction is not an epidemic.

“It is endemic,” he said. “It’s part of our culture. It’s always been around.”

Spitsbergen, who has been sober for more than 32 years, agreed. “Ten percent of the population will meet the criteria for a substance use disorder in their lifetime,” he said. “It can happen to anyone. That’s the persuasive power that addiction has. It isn’t about the gutter.”

There could be two middle school-aged children who go to the same church and same school and have the same family life, Spitsbergen said. But their responses to their first experience with alcohol could be completely different.

“Because of things that might happen in their brain state, their lives might never be the same,” he said.

The stigma surrounding addiction is so prevalent that parents often don’t participate in potentially beneficial events, said Robert Shaner, superintendent of Rochester Community Schools. He noted only 125 parents attended a recent information session on vaping, opioids and other dangerous drug trends provided by the parent-teacher association for his district, which has 15,400 students.

“People almost treat addiction like they don’t want to ‘catch it,’” Shaner said, adding that some parents think, “‘If I’m not around the people it happened to, it’s not going to happen to my kid.’ Nobody wants to say they’ve got it, and no one wants to say they’ve been treated for it. This is a non-partisan, equal-opportunity killer that we have to attack as a community.”

The challenge of easy access

“There’s no pain greater than losing a child,” Shaner said, adding that the heaviest burden a school administrator must bear is to help parents bury their children.

“Over the past six years, we’ve done this because of opiates well over a dozen times,” said Shaner. “Recently, we had five graduates from one high school lose their lives to opioid addiction. They didn’t start as street junkies; they didn’t start out looking to be addicts. Some of the addictions were caused by self-medicating because of mental health issues, some started because of athletic injuries, and for some it was having access to the drugs.”

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says most teens find prescription and OTC drugs in their home medicine cabinets or on a kitchen shelf. And among those 12 and older who misused opioid pain relievers:

  • 40.4 percent got the drug from a friend or relative for free
  • 35.4 percent received a prescription from a doctor
  • 8.9 percent bought the drug from a friend or relative
  • 6 percent bought the drug from a dealer or stranger

Students as young as middle-school age hold “bowl parties,” said Carmen McIntyre, a physician who serves as associate chair for community affairs for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.

“Everybody’s supposed to bring meds out of their parents’ medicine cabinet,” she explained. “They just take a few pills from each bottle so (parents) don’t notice anything. And then they put them all into this big bowl to share.”

McIntyre said children attending these parties also steal Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, though in her experience children panic and flee the scene rather than stick around and help the youth who overdosed.

When he was a high school principal, Shaner made a point of talking about drugs with his students. “I would say—and I don’t consider this a scare tactic—‘If you love your parents, don’t do these things. You don’t want them to feel that pain, if you truly love them.’”

One of the programs that Shaner, a former law enforcement officer, has helped implement in his district is a prescription drug drop-off program at parent-teacher conferences.

Prescription take-backs are a proven means of reducing the supply of unused, prescribed narcotics, preventing them from circulating among household and community members. Such programs allow members of the community to safely dispose of unused medications at designated locations staffed by law enforcement.

The prevention efforts of Michigan Opioid Prescribing Network, known as Michigan OPEN, include educating medical professionals, law enforcement and others on how to hold opioid collection drives in a manner that encourages participation and does not make community members feel uneasy or like criminals. So far the organization has helped organize drives in 60 cities, getting about 3,000 pounds of pills and 40,000 to 45,000 opioids off the street, said Chad Brummett, associate professor and director of the Division of Pain Research at the University of Michigan Medical School and co-director of Michigan OPEN.

10 WAYS THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY CAN HELP FIGHT DRUG DEPENDENCY AND ADDICTION

The experts say there’s considerable work to be done to reduce overdose deaths and prevent and treat addiction, but they can’t do it without the help of business leaders.
“If you’re thinking about something that takes away from your (company’s) bottom line, mental health and addiction are exponential problems,” Shaner said.
Roundtable participants shared their expert advice.
1. Advocate for more mental health services and counselors at schools: The largest percentage of prescription drug abusers are young adults aged 18 to 25 who are also beginning their careers with area businesses. “We all know K-12 education is important in solving the (opioid) problem, so we ought tobe funding it and supporting it in the right way,” Shaner said.
 
2. Sponsor youth peer programs: Eric Hipple, a former Detroit Lions quarterback and director of Outreach for the After the Impact program, suggests businesses underwrite programs that take a deeper dive into the problem of drugs and facilitate conversations and peer support among youths.
 
3. Support organizations that help: Provide meaningful support to nonprofits working to prevent and treat addiction. “Politics trump data, but business trumps politics,” said Martell.
 
4. Provide job training: People in recovery can’t return to the workforce without skills, said Smith-Butterwick. Helping recovery organizations incorporate job training would help recovering addicts support their recovery financially.
 
5. Make educating workers a priority:Hold human resources-developed programming on identifying, preventing, and treating opioid abuse.
 
6. Teach coping skills: People who develop a substance use disorder may begin using as a means of easing physical or emotional pain.Teaching alternative coping skills, such as meditation, can help promote healthy living.
 
7. Partner with insurers: Commit to offering employees robust, extended mental health treatment and addiction recovery services and challenge insurers to craft a benefit plan that reflects your commitment.
 
8. Become recovery friendly: Be mindful and welcoming of employees who suffer from addiction and/or are in recovery when planning social events. “They can’t tell anybody in the office, ‘I’m in recovery’ because it’s not comfortable,” said Smith-Butterwick. She recommends planning company events that don’t include alcohol.
 
9. Support employees in recovery:Workers often fear they will lose their jobs if their drug use is discovered. Instead, encourage and facilitate confidential addiction referral and recovery services for employees.
 
10. Engage in a community of businesses approach: Brummett emphasized the advantages of businesses combining resources as a community to financially support nonprofits dedicated to preventing and treating addiction. “Unfortunately, state and federal dollars will dry up, and we will still have issues with opioids, pain and mental health,” he said.

Prevention efforts

The number of medical professionals overprescribing potentially addictive medications drastically increased in the 1990s. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed at U.S. pharmacies tripled from 76 million prescriptions in 1991 to 219 million prescriptions in 2011.

McIntyre said one of her patients died from an overdose two days after another physician — who was aware the patient suffered from addiction — injected her with the benzodiazepine Valium and gave her a prescription for 120 Valium in pill form.

McIntyre also cited her own experience with a pharmacy dispensing 100 Vicodin to her following a dental procedure. She pointed out to pharmacy staff that her dentist likely prescribed 10 Vicodin, not 100, but said the pharmacy refused to take back the medication after it had crossed the sales counter.

Brummett said regularly prescribing opioids following dental procedures “just doesn’t make sense.” The more doses doctors prescribe, he said, the more patients take, regardless of whether their pain is reduced.

Those aged 13 to 30 who filled an opioid prescription immediately before or after having their wisdom teeth extracted were about three times as likely as their peers to still be filling opioid prescriptions long after they needed them, according to a Michigan OPEN study.

“If you think about surgery (alone), the two factors that determine whether and how many opioids a person is going to get are the surgery they’re having and the surgeon caring for them,” explained Brummett.

Not prescribing opioids to the 80 percent to 90 percent of people who don’t need them could significantly reduce exposure and access to the drugs, both primary and secondary, Brummett said. Consequently, in 2017, Michigan OPEN released the first evidence-based prescribing recommendations in the country.

Health care providers in and outside the U.S. don’t know how much of the prescribed drugs patients actually use, he said. “Unless you ask people, they don’t tell you. The only metric you have is whether or not they refill.”

Brummett said having conversations about prescribing recommendations helps create a culture of opioid stewardship that opens the door to progressively more detailed conversations, such as how to deal with chronic users, including the 6 percent to 10 percent of patients who undergo surgery and begin taking opioids as a result.

McIntyre added, “We don’t need to just talk about prevention, we need to talk about developing as normal human beings. We have to start teaching people that after surgery, (you’re) supposed to have pain. Part of the purpose of pain is to slow you down so your body can heal.”

To learn more about combating addiction and ending the opioid crisis, visit The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation at chmfoundation.org.

 

Why children’s mental health matters to your company’s bottom line

Mental illness affects one in five adults and costs U.S. employers upwards of $193 billion annually. Half of chronic mental illness begins before age 14; however, fewer than 20 percent of children with mental illness get the treatment they need.

Yet cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and respiratory illnesses typically dominate healthcare conversations. And when it comes to corporate wellness campaigns, employers emphasize weight-loss challenges, blood pressure screenings and smoking cessation.

That’s because for most people, mental health is not a watercooler conversation. It’s a stigma company leaders just don’t understand.

Matt Friedman, co-founder of Farmington Hills-based communications firm Tanner Friedman, knows from experience. His daughter was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder while in elementary school; and then, in middle school, she began to suffer from anxiety and depression.

“I think businesses are in denial that mental health affects every family they employ,” said Friedman, who spoke at a recent roundtable discussion about children’s mental health that Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation (CHMF) sponsored; he is chair of the foundation’s board of trustees.

“The business community does not get this at all. The business community is largely silent.”

Friedman is grateful he’s self-employed. While medication has helped his now-teenaged daughter over the years, he said regular therapy has been a necessity.

“I’ve got my cellphone and my laptop, and I’m working in the waiting room,” he said. “I’m looking around thinking, ‘All of these people don’t own their own businesses. How do they do it?’ They probably don’t talk to their bosses very comfortably, saying ‘I need an hour a week to take my kid to therapy.’”

Research shows fewer than 40 percent of employees discuss mental health issues with their employers because of the stigma and an associated fear of employers not taking them seriously, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a partner of the National Institute of Mental Health.

But statistics from the World Health Organization show why mental health needs to be part of each company’s wellness narrative. Last year, WHO reported that for every $1 a company invests in depression and anxiety alone, it would see a return of $4 in better health and productivity.

“If kids can have their mental health treated, they’ll be better students, they’ll be better educated, they’ll be better equipped to be in the workforce and contribute to our community,” Friedman said.

“It starts when they’re kids.”

ABOUT THIS REPORT
The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation and Crain Content Studio, the custom publishing division of Crain’s Detroit Business, brought together leaders in business, family service, medicine and education to talk candidly about children’s mental health and why employers need to pay attention. The conversation, moderated by Crain’s Editor and Publisher Ron Fournier, took place in October.

Read the full story at Crainsdetroit.com.

 

Empowering educators to build a stronger, smarter future

Despite being one of the most powerful countries in the world, the United States doesn’t rank in the top five for literacy.

In fact, according to some studies, the U.S. doesn’t rank in the top 25 for literacy based on the population. Finland, Armenia and Norway rank higher, and students in Japan, China, South Korea and Singapore test better. In the U.S. alone, 30 million adults — nearly 12 percent of the population — are illiterate, meaning they are reading below fifth-grade level.

Marcie Craig Post believes that won’t change until government and industry leaders start treating reading as a basic right and teachers with more respect. The executive director of the International Literacy Association in Newark, Del., says the ability to read “should be a fundamental right.”

Originally published on FordBetterWorld.org

Craig Post’s global advocacy group is comprised of educators from nearly 90 countries looking to completely eradicate illiteracy in the world. ILA programs include professional development strategies aimed at pinpointing the best method for teaching students to read and comprehend.

Craig Post started her career working with students with learning disabilities. After 12 years, she ran the school where she worked in Rochester, N.Y., for another 10 years.

Part of her job now is analyzing what works and what doesn’t.

Finland works, she said, because teaching is highly competitive and only the best students get into teaching schools. Moreover, parents value both education and the field of education.

South Korea, she said, has made remarkable gains in improving literacy because the government recognizes the importance of education for young people.

“There’s a general cultural attitude there that for you to succeed you need to be educated,” she added, pointing out that’s not always the case in the United States.

She said there are a variety of issues. Most of them involve kids not accessing traditional forms of education in this country because low-income rural areas and urban communities have difficulty attracting and maintaining quality teachers, a problem compounded by the large number of students that teachers have in their classrooms.

In light of proposed federal budget changes, Craig Post has been spending time talking to senators and congressmen and women about the way we as a culture view education from a family and community standpoint and a funding and government standpoint.

“There are plenty of states sinking billions of dollars into educating the kids,” she said. “Until we value educators and put them on par with doctors or lawyers, and we see the role of the teacher differently, until we consider the intensity of the job they do, we will have the difficulty forever of creating equitable balance of educating all kids.”

Cost

She said the proposed federal budget threatens to cut national Title 2 funding, which covers the cost of conferences and actual professional development for teachers.

“It’s a weaning away of our ability to develop quality teachers. Until teaching becomes a competitive field and producing quality teachers because important, we’re going to struggle to punch into the literacy rate all over the world.”

Still, she says it’s not all about education.

Looking at what’s happening outside the classroom is as important as what’s happening in the classroom. “If (kids) come to school and they don’t have food in their belly, clothes on their back and they don’t feel safe, the ability for a teacher to teach them is extremely limited,” Craig Post said. “We’ve got to address this through community development and economic develop. It’s a community system and economic system.”

Read more in this series:

Turning the page: Nonprofits, companies join to lift kids through reading programs

Nonprofits take learning beyond the last bell

Kids playing the drums at Ailey Camp in Washington Heights
The new presidential administration and questions about funding for school, after school and summer learning programs have amplified the national conversation about how we instruct our children.

While many focus on traditional school day programs, some experts say out-of-school programs are equally, if not more, important to the development of today’s youth. Children spend about 20 percent of their waking hours in school. But, they don’t stop learning at the end of the school day or year.

“What they are learning depends on what they are doing, whether that means spending too much time on screen or with bad individuals,” says Jodi Grant, executive director of the Afterschool Alliance in Washington, D.C.

Between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. is when more than 11 million children are on their own, often unsupervised, waiting for parents or guardians to return from work. Between those hours, youth are more vulnerable to experimenting with drugs and alcohol and participating in gang violence. These children also tend to lag in social skills and, Grant says, are 37 percent more likely to become teen parents.

What’s more, during summer break, youth often lose two months of skills they learned during the school year. According to a Measure of American report from the Social Science Research Council, there’s a disconnect with 4.9 million youth, ages 16 to 24, meaning they are not in school and not working and are isolated from routes that help them transition into an independent and rewarding adulthood.

“That’s a huge loss in workforce development skills,” says Grant.

However, they can grow as individuals in programs that help them succeed in school, in work and in life, she says. “If we really want our kids to be prepared for the workforce, we can’t underestimate them gaining soft skills in a safe space. Kids in after school programs do better academically, better behaviorally, attend school more.”

We take a look at three out-of-school, nonprofit youth programs — Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation’s AileyCamp, 826 National and Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit — that have been successfully enhancing youth development for more than a decade.

Read more at FordBetterWorld.org.