Press Release: Michigan Works! Region 7B joins fight against opioid crisis

Michigan Works! Region 7B 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! Region 7B (Arenac, Clare, Gladwin, Iosco, Ogemaw, and Roscommon) – 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.  

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

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. 

“Life coaches will really play an important role in helping each participant achieve their goals by using a holistic strategy; a strategy not focused on just workforce or addiction, but on their health, family, outside stressors - all things that will impact their success,” stated Natasha Allen, Chief Operating Officer of Michigan Works! Region 7B.  

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

Michigan Works! Region 7B 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 Natasha Allen by email at