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Opioid-related deaths in Ingham County continued to rise in 2016

Amanda Darche with the Ingham County Health department says she's seen how prescription opioid abuse can lead to heroin use.
United Nations Photo
Amanda Darche with the Ingham County Health department says she's seen how prescription opioid abuse can lead to heroin use.

Deaths related to opioid drug use are continuing to climb in Ingham County, reflecting a similar pattern across the state.

Last year, 77 people suffered opioid-related deaths in 2016, according to Amanda Darche, the health communications specialist with the Ingham County health department.

“If you compare that to 2006, when there were only eight opioid related deaths, you can see that that’s quite an increase,” Darche said. “Opioid abuse really is an epidemic here in the county.”

Lansing police and emergency responders also used overdose-reversing drugs like Narcan 255 times in 2016.

As drugs that are more powerful become more prevalent in the area, some people who overdose require multiple doses of drugs like Narcan or Naloxone to survive an overdose.

Darche says street drugs laced with the powerful opioid carfentinil have entered Ingham County. She says carfentinil-laced drugs were responsible for three deaths following an overdose last year.

“As the heroin becomes laced with fentanyl or carfentinil, someone who is in overdose then might need two, three or even four doses of Naloxone to come out of that overdose.” Darche said.

The Opioid Abuse Prevention Initiative is a group effort in Ingham County that Darche works with. It’s a group effort of more than 40 health and safety professionals, and community members. The group was focused simply on data collection in the beginning, and is now turning to developing a plan to manage the opioid abuse epidemic in the county.

“Previously, our hospitals, our police departments, EMS, we were all collecting our own data and knew that opioid abuse was a problem, but no one had a complete picture,” Darche said. “The way that we’ve come together and have been working and reporting data is really unique in the state of Michigan.”

The initiative has determined south and central Lansing as problem areas that see more overdoses. However, the group is still developing a plan on dealing with opioid abuse in the area.

A spokesperson from the state Department of Health and Human services says statewide data related to opioid abuse and overdoses from 2016 aren't yet available, but that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of overdoses, both in rural and urban areas. 

Tyler Scott is the weekend afternoon host at Michigan Public, though you can often hear him filling in at other times during the week. Tyler started in radio at age 18, as a board operator at WMLM 1520AM in Alma, Michigan, where he later became host of The Morning Show.
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