In the past decade, prescription drug misuse and opioid use has risen to unprecedented levels. This epidemic impacts thousands of Michiganders and their families, friends, and communities. It is one of the greatest health crises of our lifetime, and we must respond efficiently and urgently.

The leading cause of misuse is associated with two types of prescription drugs: painkillers (opioids) and tranquilizers (benzodiazepines). Opioids include both illegal drugs as well as prescription pain medicine; common opioids used to treat pain are oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, and codeine.

The total number of opioid overdose deaths from 1999 to 2016 increased more than 17 times in Michigan, from 99 to 1,699. In 2015, data from the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) reported that 11.4 million painkiller prescriptions for painkillers were written, or nearly 115 opioid prescriptions per 100 people.

In 2016, in order to prioritize saving lives, Michigan passed the Good Samaritan Law, which prevents drug possession charges against those seeking medical assistance for overdose in certain circumstances. The law enforces prioritization to save lives over the criminal prosecution of illegal drug users.  A quick response during a drug overdose can save a life. However, illegally using drugs may hinder those who should seek medical attention for an overdose due fear of alerting police to the illegal drug use. 

A recent increase of synthetic opioids, or chemically manufactured drugs, has been trending across Michigan. These types of drugs include fentanyl and carfentanil which are far more powerful than other opioids, and are often mixed with heroin. It is likely that synthetic opioids are contributing to the increase in overdose deaths.

Together we can make a difference. If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, Bear River Health is here to guide you with residential, outpatient, and aftercare support. Bear River Health is here to save lives and foster growth while assisting in reaching and sustaining recovery.