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Opioid deaths continue to rise in Kalamazoo County

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Opioids continue to play a major role in deaths from drug overdose in Kalamazoo County.

The Office of the Medical Examiner says opioids were involved in about three-quarters of a total of 66 fatal overdoses in Kalamazoo in 2017, not including suicides. The county has seen a steep rise in overdose deaths in recent years. Medical Examiner Joyce deJong says 42 people died from an accidental drug overdose in the first half of this year.

"If that maintains, if that’s reflective of what we did the first six months and what we see the second six months, we would be at 84. So it certainly doesn’t seem to be decreasing at all."

DeJong says many of the deaths involved an illegally produced variety of the opioid fentanyl.


"And this is fentanyl not from the patches but illicitly produced fentanyl, and even more so our latest big surge has been something called acetylfentanyl."