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Kzoo County releases opioid impact study results

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Kalamazoo County officials have released the results of a three-year study on the opioid epidemic’s impact on the county.

The report outlined three years of data surrounding opioid use and impact within Kalamazoo County.

The number of retail opioid prescriptions in Kalamazoo county has gone down every year since 2011, but the quantity and strength of those prescriptions in 2017 was 3.2 times high than the national average in 1999.

Retail outlets are defined as commercial pharmacies, but don’t include emergency departments or substance abuse treatment clinics.

Opioid overdose visits increased by more than 55 percent from 218 in 2014 to 342 in 2017. Over half of the overdoses occurred in people ages 25-44.

Although overdoses have increased, the number of opioid-related deaths remained below Michigan’s average in 2017, when Kalamazoo county had a rate of 16.7 deaths per 100,000 residents. Michigan’s rate was 19.1 deaths per 100,000 residents.

The average age of a person who had an opioid-related cause of death was 38.  The report says an additional 1,865 years of live would have been lived without those deaths.

Fentanyl-related deaths increased from six in 2015 to 35 in 2017. Twenty-six of those deaths were Kalamazoo residents.

The report says the county’s strategic priorities to handle the opioid epidemic are to do prevention and education, changing supply and control of opioids, improving treatment, and reducing fatal overdoses and the spread of diseases.

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