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Opioid settlement funds distributed in Michigan’s budget

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(The Center Square) – As a part of the new statewide budget for the 2025 fiscal year, bipartisan support was given toward opioid addiction services.

About $48.2 million will be allocated to fighting the opioid epidemic. Statistics show one Michigan resident dies from an opioid overdose every four hours. All funding comes from a settlement reached with opioid companies at the end of 2023.

The state expects to spend $10 million on community mental health resources, $2 million on tribal assistance and the remainder on programs like recovery housing.

Andy’s Place in Jackson, Michigan is one such place, receiving $3 million to expand its 50-unit complex. The founder of Andy’s Place, Mike Hirst, was inspired to create the charity after his son Andy died of an overdose. The recovery housing has units for both single people and families, as well as on-site addiction coaches, community spaces and offices.

While the multi-million dollar funding addresses addiction, some mental health experts are concerned the state hasn’t been fully listening. Dr. Cara Poland, chairwoman of the Opioid Advisory Commission, said the commission’s recommendations have been frequently ignored. Recommendations include creating a needs assessment and spending more of the settlement dollars upfront to provide aid as quickly as possible.

Amy Dolinky, a technical adviser for opioid settlements at the Michigan Association of Counties, argues otherwise.

“…it is crucial that the understandable urge to ‘DO SOMETHING!’ in the face of such human suffering does not overwhelm the responsibility public servants have to act prudently,” Dolinky said in an op-ed published by Bridge Michigan. “Quick spending often fails to address the deeper, systemic issues at the heart of the crisis and does not provide space for meaningful community inclusion and assessment of existing data. Investments in effective and sustainable solutions require careful planning.”

Currently, the attorney general’s office has a website with resources for both individuals and counties looking to fight the addiction epidemic.

“When joining the national settlements, we knew we didn’t want a repeat of the tobacco settlements – where the money went into the General Fund and wasn’t directly spent on nicotine prevention and remediation – and we also didn’t want the money to get stuck in political limbo while local communities were hurting,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in March.

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