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Prescription drug and opioid abuse deaths continue to rise in 2014

State task force working to address growing epidemic

March 7, 2016

LANSING, Mich. – The number of drug overdose deaths in Michigan rose by 14 percent in 2014, according to data released today by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“Prescription drug and opioid abuse is a problem that is impacting communities all across our state,” said Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, chair of the state’s Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force. “We are coming together to reverse this trend that is hurting Michiganders across every geographic and demographic category. No family is immune from this so all families must come together to fight the stigma of addiction and know that it’s ok to ask for help. ”

The data shows that the total drug poisoning deaths increased from 1,535 in 2013 to 1,745 in 2014 – continuing an upward trend since 2012. In 2014, this was the number one cause of injury related-death in Michigan. For a few years prior to 2012, the number of drug poisoning deaths had appeared to level off, following a general rise since the late 1990s. In 1999, there were 455 drug poisoning deaths in Michigan.

The new data comes as MDHHS continues efforts to address opioid and heroin use in the state. In October, the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force released several findings and recommendations related to the abuse of these drugs in Michigan and strategies to curb them.

“As members of the healthcare community we need to work together and engage all of our partners to combat the opioid epidemic in Michigan,” said Tim Becker, chief deputy director of MDHHS. “The Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force recommendations will continue to guide our efforts on this issue moving forward.”

According to the data, heroin-related deaths were more than three times higher among men (7 per 100,000) than women (2.1 per 100,000) in 2014. The rate for heroin-related deaths was highest among young adults aged 25-34 (11.3 per 100,000). Adults aged 35-44 had the highest rate for deaths involving opioid analgesics (12 per 100,000).

Moreover, men died at a higher rate than women from opioid and heroin use (21.4 deaths of men per 100,000, compared to 14.1 deaths among women), according to the data.

See the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force report for more information about its findings and recommendations.

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