State launches county-level substance use tool

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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has launched a new tool to help stakeholders target efforts to address substance use issues in their counties and will support decision-making for spending opioid settlement funds.

It’s called the Michigan Substance Use Vulnerability Index (MI-SUVI). According to the MDHHS, before this tool, only overdose mortality data was relied on to identify areas with higher substance use. That method didn’t consider a community’s access to resources, the impact of nonfatal overdoses or social determinants of health. MI-SUVI uses data on access to services, social vulnerability and substance use burden. With the additional data, county-level vulnerability scores can be made. MI-SUVI shows areas that are more vulnerable to harmful substance use outcomes.

“We know substance use disorder programming is most effective when it is community-focused and data-driven,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “However, measuring the community impact of substance use is complicated, and no single indicator reflects its true impact. MI-SUVI is an innovative tool for communities to address the opioid crisis and other substance use disorder issues they specifically face. With the disbursement of opioid settlement funds across Michigan, we foresee the index playing a vital role in facilitating community conversations and developing targeted efforts to assist vulnerable individuals.”

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