LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Over 20 million Americans struggle with drug abuse.

According to the CDC, from 1999 to 2019, nearly 850,000 people died in the U.S. From drug abuse.

Dr. Cara Poland is an assistant professor at MSU’s College of Human Medicine. She has a passion to teach people about substance abuse disorders.

“My younger brother had an alcohol use disorder and he never was offered medications about 9 years ago.” said Dr. Poland. “He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound which related to his depression from his alcohol- use-disorder.”

Dr. Poland says our country does not have enough physicians trained to deal with this national issue. Which is the reason why she helped start a national program collaborating with Wayne State University called “MICARES.”

“By doing this program, my goal and my hope are to prevent one other family from suffering that loss and from living with the knowledge that this is a preventable disease,” said Dr. Poland.

The program is on a virtual platform, and teaches doctors and future physicians about different substance-use-disorders.

Dr. Poland says at the moment the average doctor has between 2 and 10 hours of training in substance disorders and that’s not enough.

“They are using kind of older processes that maybe don’t have as strong of evidence around them,” said Dr. Poland.

“The research shows if you want to reduce stigma the best way to do that is to introduce this material, introduce these concepts earlier in medical training,” said Associate Professor Jamie Alan with MSU’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

Alan teaches the program to pre-med students at Michigan State University.

“These students are coming to us and saying ‘wow we saw some patients with a substance use disorder and I looked at them so differently. I saw them as a whole person and I feel like I would treat them differently than I would have if I had not had taken this course,'” said Alan.

MICARES hopes to give people in the medical field the tools they need to create a better planet for anyone who has lost hope.

“We can treat people with a substance use disorder and we can provide support to them,” said Dr. Poland.