Overdose deaths in Michigan decrease for first time in 6 years

Posted at 11:44 AM, Nov 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-22 11:46:37-05

(WXYZ) — Michigan experienced a decrease in overall overdose deaths in 2018, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced.

In 2018, there were 2,599 overdose deaths, 2,036 of which were opioid-related, MDHHS says.

Overall, overdose deaths declined by 3.2 percent from 2017, the first time in six years.

MDHHS says opioid-related overdose deaths decreased by 0.8 percent from 2017.

“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, in a press release. “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.”

MDHHS says the decline was largely driven by decreases in deaths due to poisoning by heroin and commonly prescribed drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

However, MDHHS says drug poisoning involving synthetic opioids like 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.”

MDHHS also says there are still troubling disparities across racial groups and is taking steps to ensure equitable access.

  • Overall overdose mortality rates among white residents decreased by 6.5 percent, while rates among black residents increased by 14.7 percent.
  • Opioid overdose mortality rates among white residents decreased by 5.1 percent, while rates among black residents increased by 19.9 percent.
  • Michigan residents of other races experienced a 9.1 percent decrease in overall overdose mortality and an 8.7 percent decrease in opioid overdose mortality.