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Lt. Gov. Brian Calley: Overdose deaths continue to climb, efforts must accelerate to fight epidemic

2017 opioid-related death data released by MDHHS

Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan continues to be among the states nationwide experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of opioid-related overdoses in recent years, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley announced today.  2017 data reveals that of the 2,729 overdose deaths in Michigan in 2017, 1,941 were opioid-related.

“The opioid epidemic continues to be a national emergency that is impacting every corner of our state and unfortunately overdose deaths have continued to rise,” Calley said. “While we have made progress, we must take our efforts to the next level in both preventing addiction and making sure treatment is available for those suffering so that we can have more second chances and fewer funerals.” 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updated its case definition to align with the latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opioid reports and analyses which resulted in a more comprehensive total number. The new definition includes deaths attributed to opium and unspecified narcotics, which were not previously included in Michigan data. Despite the work to fight this epidemic, there has been a steady increase over overdose deaths in the last three years: 

  • In 2017, opioid-related deaths were reported at 1,941
  • In 2016, opioid-related deaths were reported at 1,786
  • In 2015 opioid-related deaths were reported at 1,320

The state is using every available tool to combat the opioid epidemic. The collaborative efforts of state agencies amplifies Michigan’s efforts related to prevention and treatment of patients, education of health professionals and enforcement of over-prescribers.

Efforts include:

  • Providing online resources for patients, health professionals and communities about prevention and treatment of opioid abuse.
  • The Michigan Automated Prescription System provides real-time prescription data and resources to better assess a patient’s risk for substance use disorder.
  • Assistance with proper drug disposal of unwanted medications.
  • Michigan State Police posts serving as drug-take back sites and providing the Angel Program for individuals struggling with addiction.

In addition, Michigan issued a standing order in May 2017 to pre-authorize the distribution of naloxone by pharmacists to those at risk of an opioid-related overdose, as well as family members, friends and other persons who may be able to assist a person at risk of overdose. Naloxone is a fast-acting, potentially life-saving medication that reverses opioid overdose.

Since it was issued, more than 60 percent of Michigan pharmacies have registered to dispense naloxone under the standing order. Pharmacies across the state have dispensed 10,328 orders of naloxone; 3,374 through the standing order and 6,954 through prescriptions from physicians.

For more information about opioids and the additional steps residents can take to protect themselves and loved ones, visit