Washtenaw County Health Department: Opioid deaths on the rise.

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Ypsilanti, Mich. – Washtenaw County Health Department officials say between 2020 and 2021, opioid overdose deaths among county residents have increased by 28 percent.

The trend is consistent with a national increase in opioid-related deaths since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Opioid-related deaths in Washtenaw are down 26 percent, Washtenaw County Health Department epidemiologist Shannon Phillips said in a statement. While these rates were stable during the first year of the epidemic, unfortunately we are seeing an increase in opioid-related deaths in our community starting in 2021.

From January 2021 to May 2022, 82% of opioid overdose deaths in Washtenaw County involved fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. Most opioid-related fatal deaths involve other substances, and more than half involve cocaine and methamphetamine.

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The emerging drug in local overdose deaths is Xylazine, a non-opioid tranquilizer not available for human use. It is commonly added to illegal fentanyl and other opioids, according to the Department of Health.

“The majority of opioid-related deaths involve fentanyl, additives or other drugs added to legal opioids,” Washtenaw County Health Department Health Officer Jimena Loveluck said in a release. It greatly increases the risk of overdose. It is incredibly important to use extreme caution: never use alone and keep naloxone handy.

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a life-saving substance that counteracts the effects of opioids during an overdose. It is like a nasal spray for a person who has a problem with excessive drinking.

A list of places to pick up free Narcan kits in Washington County; Click here.

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Read: Free Narcan is now available at Ann Arbor District Libraries.

“The majority of residents who died from opioid overdoses were white (81%), male (71%) and between the ages of 25-44 (60%),” the health department said. “The number of Black/African American residents who died from opioid overdoses (19%) was disproportionately high compared to the county’s Black/African American residents (12%).

See WCHD’s for more information September 2022 Opioid Report.

Visit for information on where to dispose of medicine and read local recovery stories www.washtenaw.org/ItIsPossible.

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Copyright 2022 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit – All rights reserved.

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