Press Release: Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium joins fight against opioid crisis

Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium joins fight against opioid crisis

 At a time when employers need all the help they can get to maintain a healthy, skilled workforce, three Michigan Works! agencies are stepping forward to help address a critical issue that impacts lives across their 24 county region: The Opioid Epidemic.

According to the State of Michigan, from 1999 to 2018, opioid overdose deaths increased from 118 to 2036, with 8.4 million prescriptions written for opioid medication in 2018. Across the country, the number of opioid overdose deaths is around 47,000 per year, with millions of loved ones impacted not only by these deaths, but by addiction.

In 2021, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has pledged to fight this epidemic with a crisis response strategy of prevention, treatment, and harm reduction. To that end, 24 Northern Michigan Counties – including those represented by Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium (Alcona, Alpena, Cheboygan, Crawford, Montmorency, Oscoda, Otsego, and Presque Isle) – have received up to $3 million in funding from the state to help fight the opioid epidemic in our communities.

The Michigan Works! agencies know that in order to help local employers, the impact of this crisis needs to be addressed, and this is an innovative way to bring together the employer, employee, and resources for success.  

“The opioid crisis has affected everyone in northern Michigan in some way,” said Marisue Moreau, Director of Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium. “This funding will give our region more tools to help all who’ve been impacted - from employers struggling to fill positions with a drug free workforce, to those in treatment programs trying to rebuild their lives, and others as well. We want our entire region to be successful and get back to work, no matter what barriers individuals may be facing. This grant will give us additional ways to help.” 

Employers in support of this grant also noted that it wasn’t just hiring, but retaining employees, that was directly impacted by drug use.  

“We drug test after all accidents, and find that probably 60-70 percent come back with positive tests,” said Paula Straus, Director of Human Resources at Vantage Plastics. “In some cases, we offer a second chance, but most often individuals are terminated for the positive test.” 

The funding will make it possible to hire and train Certified Professional Life Coaches to assist individuals affected by opioid dependency – whether by their own addiction or that of a family member or friend – with any issues that may affect their success in life and/or at work. These Life Coaches will help those impacted by the opioid crisis to navigate resources, career training, and employment opportunities. 

“This grant offers a unique opportunity to help anyone affected by the opioid crisis. Life Coaches will help guide others through the entire process, with a goal of helping as many people as possible overcome the numerous effects the crisis has left on many lives in our area," stated Angie Asam, Special Initiatives Manager at Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium.  

With the funding from this grant, the Michigan Works! agencies aim to serve close to 200 participants across the region. 

Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium is also looking to establish partnerships with other agencies and organizations that provide services and resources to people struggling with effects of opioid addiction. Anyone interested in such a partnership is encouraged to contact Angie Asam by email at