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Drug related deaths rising in Mid-Michigan

This year was the biggest spike in drug-related deaths since the office of the medical examiner started collecting data in 2017
Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 4:51 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Sparrow Health System is doing as many as five drug-related autopsies every day. One of the reasons is there’s more than just narcotics in the substances people are abusing.

Corey Warren is the co-founder and president of RISE Recovery Community, an addiction treatment center in Lansing.

“The dope these days, it’s cut with so many toxics, whether it’s a different substance, such as Fentanyl or it’s something that we don’t know what it is,” said Warren.

The number of people killed by opioids in Ingham, Eaton, Ionia, Shaiwassee and Isabella counties from July through September was up almost 97% compared to the same time a year ago. It was a 110% increase for deaths related to the powerful painkiller Fentanyl.

Michelle Fox, chief investigator for the office of the medical examiner isn’t surprised.

“We’re just always seeing a rise in Fentanyl and opioid,” Fox said. “The other drugs stay the same across the board, opioid and fentanyl have been rising.”

Knowing what’s causing it is one thing, but finding ways to get it under control is another. “RISE Recovery Communities” is trying to find ways to keep people busy in rehab houses.

“Lot of meetings on Zoom, individual supports through Zoom, phone calls,” said Warren. “But we are also dropping off board games, cards, signing them up for Netflix, whatever we can do to keep them busy.”

The people recovering in those houses get face-to-face checkups too.

“We go to the houses multiple times a day,” said Warren. “We are not only checking in with the members we also are doing random searches, urine testing, to make sure that our houses are clean and safe for the people in them.”

Although the people of Sparrow Health System and the RISE Recovery Community intend to keep fighting the opioid epidemic, they have their work cut out for them. This year was the biggest spike in drug-related deaths since the office of the medical examiner started collecting data in 2017.

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