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"It doesn't just go away": Michigan drug deaths are on the rise

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Tom - Stock.Adobe.Com
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Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control show the number of people who died of drug overdoses in a single year in the U.S. is at an all-time high.

Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control show the number of people who died of drug overdoses in a single year in the U.S. is at an all-time high.

In Michigan, 2,933 people died of drug overdoses in a 12-month period ending last September.

That’s a 7% increase from 2020 where 2,741 people died from overdoses.

Experts say it’s not getting better anytime soon.

Pamela Lynch directs Harm Reduction Michigan. She says the epidemic began with prescription drugs. But one of the biggest concerns now is fentanyl. She says other drugs could be laced with it - so people might take it unknowingly.

"So people are medicating both physical and emotional pain, so it doesn’t just go away," Lynch said. "If people haven’t had the luxury of good treatment or good therapy to help them understand those underlying issues, then it just moves from one substance to another."

Lynch says America needs to do more to support people with drug addictions, by focusing on harm reduction tactics that keep people alive.

"Now what’re we seeing is a lot more fentanyl, a lot of other kinds of substances entering into these overdose rates. So we’re working with our partners in law enforcement on interdiction and trying to prevent illicit substances from coming into the communities," said Dr. Debra Pinals with the state health department.

In 2020, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer created the Opioid Task Force. They found that Black people are dying from overdoses most often in Michigan.

State health officials say that opioid overdose deaths have grown ten-fold in Michigan since 2000.