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Drug poisoning (or drug overdose) can happen when a person takes more of a drug than can be broken down in the body. Overdoses can be fatal. The number of drug overdose deaths among Michigan residents was five times higher in 2018 compared to the number in 1999. The 2018 number of opioid deaths was almost 18 times higher than the 1999 number.1 Opioids are implicated in the majority of drug overdose deaths.
Drug poisoning (overdose) mortality data are available on the MiTracking data portal.
Drugs commonly connected to drug overdose include:
- Prescription painkillers2
- Benzodiazepines (ex: Xanax)
Opioids are a drug class. Opioids are involved in more than half of drug overdose deaths in Michigan and the US.
Prescription opioids are drugs intended to treat moderate-to-severe pain. Anyone can become addicted to opioids (Opioid Use Disorder), even when prescription opioids are taken as directed.
Prescription opioids can be legally or illegally bought. They can be legitimately manufactured or created in underground labs. Prescription opioids can be made in the U.S. or another country. In most overdose instances, we only know what drug was involved. There is usually no way to tell the source of a prescription drug.
Prescribed opioids commonly involved in overdose deaths include methadone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. A small amount of prescription opioids can be very strong.
For more information, visit CDC - Prescription Opioids.
Heroin is a strong, illegal opioid.3 It is often used in combination with other substances, such as alcohol, which can increase the risk of an overdose. Heroin is frequently injected, putting users at high risk of serious viral and bacterial infections.
For more information, visit CDC - Heroin.
Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a man-made opioid prescribed to treat severe pain.4 Fentanyl is very strong and deadly even in very small amounts. Illegal fentanyl is increasingly used as a "cutting agent" meaning it is added to other drugs, like heroin or cocaine, without a user knowing.4 In addition, there are variations of fentanyl (called fentanyl analogues) that can be even stronger than fentanyl.
For more information, visit CDC - Fentanyl.
Treatment and recovery are possible for individuals with substance use disorder. Many treatment resources are available:
- Licensed treatment facilities in Michigan
- Treatment by county in Michigan
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) treats opioid, alcohol, or tobacco addiction. MAT uses medications (methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone) with counseling and behavioral therapies.5
For more information, visit SAMHSA National Hotline.
There are SSPs across the state of Michigan. They provide a number of services, including syringe disposal, clean syringe pick-up, naloxone, recovery coaching, linkage to care, and much more. These programs have been proven to reduce the harms of substance use to the individual and to the community. SSPs reconnect marginalized community members to their community and empower people to make positive changes in their lives. SSPs focus on building relationships and provide people access to other vital services.
For more information, visit Michigan Syringe Service Programs.
Lowering the number of prescriptions for opioids will help lower misuse and overdose numbers.
- Prescribe safer pain medication
- Remember the risks of prescribing opioids outweigh benefits
- Limit length of opioid prescriptions
For more information, please visit CDC - Improve Opioid Prescribing.
Providers can use the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) to:
- Track controlled substances
- Determine opioid abuse risk
- Prevent patients from obtaining opioid prescriptions from multiple providers.
The unused part of prescriptions can be stolen or used by others. Safely storing or properly disposing of these drugs will help decrease abuse and protect the environment. Take back locations are places where drugs can be taken for safe disposal. Teaching people how to safely store opioids and where take back locations are can help with prevention.
Naloxone is a drug that can be used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose when given in time. Medicaid will cover Naloxone and many non-profit organizations distribute the drug (organizations can request Naloxone through the MDHHS Naloxone portal). Pharmacists can dispense Naloxone without a prescription under a new Michigan law.
Learn more about Naloxone in Michigan.
Michigan's Good Samaritan Law was passed in 2016 to help save lives. The law prevents someone from being arrested for illegal drug possession if they are trying to find medical assistance for an overdose in some situations. This law makes saving lives the priority during a drug overdose, not criminal prosecutions of persons using illegal drugs.7
Learn more about Michigan's Good Samaritan Law.
The type of incidents included on MiTracking are fatal all drug and opioid-involved drug poisoning (overdose). Incidents include those that occurred unintentionally or intentionally, such as suicides and homicides. Also included are deaths for which medical examiners could not determine the person's intent when they took the drug(s).2
Drug Poisoning (Overdose) MiTracking Indicators
- All drug poisoning (overdose) deaths
Indicators are separated into two categories:
- All drug
Drug Poisoning (Overdose) MiTracking Measures
- Percent of all drug overdose deaths where the drug was unspecified
- Number of deaths
- Crude rate of deaths per 100,000 people
- Age-adjusted rate of deaths per 100,000 people
MiTracking Data Can Tell Us
- The number and rate of drug overdose in Michigan by year, age group, sex, county, and city of Detroit.
- If drug overdose rates are increasing or decreasing over time.
- If part of the population is at higher risk of drug overdose.
- Where opioid overdoses may be underestimated due to the type of drug not being specified.
MiTracking Data Cannot Tell Us
- The types of drug(s) involved in the overdose (except in the case of opioid-involved drug poisoning).
- The total cost, effect, or consequence of drug overdose.
Find Out More
Mortality measures were created from the Michigan Resident Death Files, provided by the Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics (DVRHS). For additional information, visit the Michigan Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics website.
For additional data information visit:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA)
Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE)
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS)
Michigan Overdose Data to Action (MODA) Dashboard
Michigan Substance Use Disorder Data Registry (SUDDR)
Michigan Syringe Service Programs (SSPs)
Recovery and Substance Use Opioids
Substance Use in Michigan (Fact Sheet)
Michigan State Police
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- MDHHS. MDHHS Opioids. https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71550_2941_4871_79584---,00.html. Accessed August 11, 2020.
- Rudd RA, Aleshire N, Zibbell JE, Matthew Gladden R. Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths-United States, 2000-2014. American journal of transplantation. 2016;16:1323-1327.
- CDC. Opioid overdose: heroin. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/heroin.html. Accessed April 1, 2021.
- CDC. Opioid overdose: synthetic opioid overdose. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/fentanyl.html. Accessed April 1, 2021.
- CDC. Opioid overdose: treat opioid use disorder. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prevention/treatment.html. Accessed August 11, 2020.
- CDC. Opioid overdose: prescription opioid data. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/prescribing.html. Accessed August 11, 2020.
- MDHHS. Michigan's Good Samaritan Law. https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71550_2941_4871_79584_79585_79587_79590-409680--,00.html. Accessed August 11, 2020.