FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 22, 2019
CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112
LANSING, Mich. – After several years of increases in overdose deaths, in 2018 Michigan experienced a decrease overall, including a slight decline in opioid-related overdose deaths, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced today. In 2018, there were 2,599 overdose deaths, 2,036 of which were opioid-related.
Overall overdose deaths declined by 3.2 percent from 2017’s 2,686 tally – with the deaths down for the first time in six years. Opioid-related overdose deaths decreased by 0.8 percent from the 2017 total of 2,053. The age-adjusted opioid overdose death rate decreased from 21.4 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2017 to 21.1 deaths per 100,000 residents.
“This is a step in the right direction, however, there is much work to be done, particularly when it comes to disparities and access to treatment,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS. “We have a plan in Michigan to cut opioid-related overdose deaths by half in five years and we will be using all available resources to make that goal a reality.”
The decline in opioid-related overdose deaths in 2018 was largely driven by decreases in the number of deaths due to poisoning by heroin and commonly prescribed natural and semisynthetic drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone and oxymorphone. Drug poisoning deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl continue to climb.
“With the devastation that the opioid epidemic inflicts on families and communities, the Michigan State Police is committed to doing all that we can to help,” said Col. Joe Gasper, director of the Michigan State Police. “Whether it be from a prevention standpoint with our Angel Program that assists those struggling with opioid use to find treatment or our efforts to arrest drug traffickers and interdict shipments of fentanyl coming into our state, we’re committed to working with our state and federal partners to combat this deadly epidemic.”
The state is using every available tool to combat the opioid epidemic. The collaborative efforts of state agencies are amplifying Michigan’s efforts related to prevention and treatment of patients, education of health professionals and enforcement of over-prescribers.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, MDHHS and other members of the Michigan Opioids Task Force recently announced a slate of steps the state is taking to combat the opioid epidemic. The state’s strategy addresses three key areas: preventing opioid misuse, ensuring individuals using opioids can access high-quality recovery treatment and reducing the harm caused by opioids to individuals and their communities.
In addition, the Michigan Opioids Task Force, created by Whitmer in August, held its first meeting last month to map out an action plan across state departments to meet this goal. The Task Force will announce additional actions in the coming months and conduct a series of regional townhall meetings to hear directly from individuals across the state about how the epidemic has affected their communities.
For more information about opioids and the additional steps residents can take to protect themselves and loved ones, visit Michigan.gov/Opioids.
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