In order to address the opioid crisis gripping the state, the Minnesota Department of Human Services is working with state and community partners to increase awareness, decrease the number of persons who develop opioid use disorder and reduce the harms resulting from opioid addiction.
The new Opioid Prescribing Guidelines — developed by prescribers and representatives of hospitals, academia, and quality improvement organizations — aim to curb unnecessary prescriptions and promote effective alternatives. Minnesota’s guidelines focus on post-acute care, a critical phase for preventing long-term use, and encourage compassionate care to help chronic users decrease use. The Opioid Prescribing Guidelines provide a framework for safe, appropriate opioid prescribing within the overall approach to pain management.
In the summer of 2017, Minnesota received a two-year, $10.6 Million State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. DHS then awarded grants to 40 state agencies, Tribes and counties. The result is a wide-range of community-based solutions, from streamlining services to supporting existing programs to creating new and innovative approaches.
Expanding medication-assisted treatment, in both the number of providers and their geographic reach. Medication-assisted treatment combines behavioral therapy and medications to treat substance use disorders
Making it easier and faster for people to receive a substance use disorder for treatment services
Increasing opioid-specific peer recovery and care coordination
Piloting the Parent Child Assistance Program, a peer support program for pre- and post-natal mothers
Expanding access to naloxone — a drug that serves as an immediate lifesaving antidote to opioid overdose — for opioid treatment programs and emergency medical service teams
Launching Fast-Tracker, a website showing real-time treatment bed availability
However, the federal grant is only through June 2019, at which time the work will stop unless new funding is secured.
In the fall 2017, the state received $6 million to expand medication-assisted treatment (PDF) over three years, working in partnership with tribal governments and healthcare providers. FDA has approved several different medications to treat opioid addiction and alcohol dependence. These medications relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body. MAT programs provide a safe and controlled level of medication to overcome the use of an abused opioid. And research has shown that when provided at the proper dose, medications used in MAT have no adverse effects on a person’s intelligence, mental capability, physical functioning, or employability.
Starting in 2012, the Department of Human Services has been working to streamline and modernize the substance use disorder treatment system in Minnesota. In 2017, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature enacted new reforms, removing barriers to access substance abuse treatment for people who use Medical Assistance. The reform package allows patients to more quickly access services, and it adds important services like withdrawal management, care coordination, and peer support.
Making it work: A coordinated response
Solutions to the opioid crisis cuts across a number of State agencies and boards (PDF). It is critical that we be coordinated and collaborative as we work together to end the crisis.
The Opioid Prescribing Work Group (OPWG) is an advisory body of experts convened to forward DHS’ Opioid Prescribing Improvement Program. The program plays a crucial role in Minnesota’s response to the crisis of prescription opioid misuse and abuse, namely addressing inappropriate prescribing behavior among Minnesota health care providers.
The Opioid Prescribing Improvement Program was created in 2015 at the direction of the governor and the Legislature, and the work group is convened through 2019. The work group is tasked with providing recommendations on the following program components:
Protocols that address all phases of the opioid prescribing cycle
Development of educational resources and messages for providers to use in communicating with patients about pain and the use of opioids to treat pain
Quality-improvement measures to assess variation and support improvement in clinical practice
Two thresholds directed at Minnesota Health Care Program-enrolled providers with persistently concerning prescribing practices, one threshold that will trigger quality improvement and the other termination from the Minnesota Health Care Program
The Minnesota Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) is a tool to be used by prescribers and pharmacists to assist in managing their patient’s care. Pharmacies and prescribers who dispense from their office submit prescription data to the PMP system for opioids dispensed in Minnesota.
It is important that opioids are disposed of properly and safely. There are more than 240 medication collection boxes located at law enforcement facilities and pharmacies in Minnesota. Collection sites accept all medicines from households, including prescription, over-the-counter, liquid, solid, and pet medicines. Find a site near you.