Michigan Association of Health Plans

US overdose deaths reach all time high, MI numbers also up

This article appeared in ABC 12. Read more here

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put with some startling overdose death statistics, reaching an all time high.

The number of people who have died from opioid overdoses in one year has reached an all time high. Numbers in Michigan are also trending up.

Denise Terryah, is a former fentanyl addict and peer recovery coach at the Flint Odyssey House. She said that a big part of helping to solve the opioid epidemic is addressing the stigma of addiction.

In order to do that, she says we need to start talking more.

“It’s everything. In the elevator, the bus station, dinner table and Narcan, we have to have that Narcan out there to save some people,” Terryah said.

Terryah has been in the deep dark depths of fentanyl addiction. She’s been clean of the drug now for 10 years.

“If they’re dead, I can’t help them. It’s a disease just like anything else. Addiction is a disease,” she said.

CDC data shows U.S. overdose deaths are at an all time high. More than 104,000 people died from overdosing between September 2020-September 2021.

That number is up from approximately 90,000 overdose deaths from the previous year.

In Michigan, 2,933 people died by overdose during that same period, a 7% increase from the previous year.

Terryah calls the numbers heartbreaking.

She knows there is an incredible amount of shame and guilt when people are dealing with addiction and asking for help is the hardest part.

But, she believes breaking that stigma can happen through dialogue. She says a simple conversation can mean the difference between life and death for someone.

“It’s possible. Recovery is possible. You don’t have to die from this disease,” she said.

The majority of the deaths associated with these latest figures involved ingesting some form of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than morphine and up to 50 times more potent than heroin.

It is also very easy to be laced into many other illegal and prescription drugs, which is why many don’t even know they’re ingesting it until it’s too late.

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