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Michigan and County Drug Statistics

The State of Michigan and its counties are experiencing the same substance abuse epidemic that has swept much of the nation. Here, we provide more information on the growing issue.


In 2013 alone, 1,533 Michigan residents died of a drug overdose. Of these deaths, 225 were directly caused by Heroin and 233 were caused by prescription pain medication. Unfortunately, the number of prescriptions is on the rise. In 2014, Michigan physicians prescribed over 21 million controlled substances. Comparatively, there were 20.9 million prescriptions in 2012, and 17 million in 2007.

From 2009 to 2012, the vast majority of drug poisoning deaths were labeled as “unspecified” (35.4%). This was followed by Opiate-related deaths (19.4%), Heroin deaths (12.1%), “other specified drugs” (11.2%), Benzodiazepines (9%), Cocaine (4.4%), and a mixture of both Cocaine and Heroin (4.3%).

Not only is Michigan losing its residents to addiction, it is also costing the state millions of dollars. Methadone treatment and counseling alone can cost upwards of $10 million each year. Additionally, the state spends approximately $30,000.00 per year on each incarcerated individual, in addition to other criminal justice costs. Many millions more are spent on treatment by Medicaid and insurance companies.

Though these statistics treat Michigan as a whole, each of its counties are experiencing the drug addiction epidemic differently. Below, you will find a list of the drug abuse and addiction statistics for various counties throughout Michigan.

Clinton County

Though Clinton County only experienced one Heroin overdose death and 3 other Opiate-related deaths in 2013, officials are still concerned about the presence of drugs in the community. Specifically, area agencies fear the rise of Heroin use in the future.  As prescription drug abuse rises across the country, addicts have been turning to Heroin as a cheaper and more potent alternative. As such, the county saw nearly 150 violations of the Controlled Substance Act in 2014. DeWitt Township Police Chief has also expressed his concern about the rise in Opiates in the area.

According to the Clinton County Sheriff, Wayne Kangas, the use and distribution of several drugs, including Methamphetamines, have been on the rise. In fact, in 2014, the Sheriff’s office made nearly 150 drug arrests after routine traffic stops. The sheriff’s department is hoping to reach out to young students in an effort to prevent the increase in drug abuse in the county.

Despite the relatively low number of drug overdoses, state and local funds, including community grants, are still poured into mental health departments. In fact, in 2014, the Office of National Drug Control Policy awarded over $73,000.00 to the Clinton County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

Eaton County

To lower the cost of addiction on the community, Eaton County has instituted Drug Courts into their criminal justice system. These courts focus on rehabilitation for the offender, rather than automatic incarceration. It is said that Drug Courts can save about $2.21 for every dollar invested. So far, the court has provided some excellent results since its inception.

Despite the success associated with Drug Courts, Eaton County has experienced a rise in Methamphetamine use and distribution. In the first 6 months of 2015, the Eaton County Sheriff’s Department has seen more cases than in all of 2014. Furthermore, in 2013, Eaton County saw only 3 Heroin overdose deaths, but saw 12 deaths caused by other Opiates.

Unfortunately, the county’s drug problem remains persistent. In fact, in one week in 2015, the Sheriff’s office responded to three calls regarding drug overdoses. Between Eaton and Ingham Counties, there have been 40 overdoses in approximately 17 months. Luckily, Eaton County police and EMTs are now equipped with Narcan, the lifesaving antidote to an Opiate overdose. With this medication, they are hoping to save the lives of the increasing number of addicts within the area. The Eaton County Substance Abuse Advisory Group has also worked with the community to reduce the impact of drugs.

Ingham County

In Ingham County in 2008, there were only 296 admissions into drug treatment facilities. By 2013, this number skyrocketed to 933. These figures also account for the rise in drug-related deaths since 2010, which increased to 70 in 2014. Specifically, in 2013, Ingham County experienced 10 fatal Heroin overdoses and 28 fatal overdoses from other Opiates. As of the Fall of 2015, there were already over 19 Heroin-related fatalities.

With the rise in drug overdoses, Ingham County has also seen an increase in treatment facility admissions. For many of these addicts, their primary drug of abuse has been either prescription pain medications or Heroin. The high cost and limited availability of prescription painkillers has lead many addicts to try Heroin as a cheaper alternative.

Fortunately, first responders in Ingham County will now be equipped with Narcan, a medication that stops the effects of an Opiate overdose. Though the drug helps to halt an overdose, the addict will still require medical treatment. As such, the patient, their insurer, or Medicaid will still incur the costs of recovery. The Ingham Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition has also provided benefits and assistance to the families of addicts within the community.

Wayne County

According to the National Forensic Information Laboratories, the main drugs of abuse in Wayne County are Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin, and Hydrocodone. Although Wayne County doesn’t report overdose statistics to the state, other agencies attempt to track this crucial data. Specifically, in 2013, there were at least 170 deaths caused by Heroin and 77 deaths caused by other Opiates.

Similarly, Heroin was the cause of over 33% of all treatment admissions in 2013. Prescription Opiates, such as Hydrocodone, were the cause of 2.8% of all treatment admissions. Notably, this figure is actually significantly lower than the rest of the state, where 15.6% of all treatment admissions are to treat prescription painkiller abuse.

As a proactive measure, federal and state officials have begun bringing criminal charges against drug dealers who distribute drugs to addicts, who subsequently experience a fatal overdose. Additionally, like other area counties, the lifesaving antidote to an Opiate overdose, Narcan, is becoming more widely available in Wayne County. The decision to increase these drug-fighting measures also comes in the wake of an increase in Fentanyl related deaths. This Opiate is much stronger than Heroin and has been causing a rising number of fatal overdoses in Wayne County.

Oakland County

Though Oakland County does not keep specific records of Heroin-related deaths, the State and other local records suggest that there were anywhere from 14 to 59 fatalities in 2013. Part of the reason for the discrepancy is the speed at which the body metabolizes the drug. According to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, over 200 people have experienced fatal overdoses in 2014 alone, many of which were caused by the state’s growing Heroin epidemic.

Between 2010 and 2012, there were approximately 728 Heroin deaths in Oakland County, alone. Between 1999 and 2002, there were only 271 fatalities. Aside from the increase in popularity of the drug, there has also been an increase in its potency. In fact, Heroin can be up to 90% more potent than 15 to 20 years prior.

Many addicts begin their journey to Heroin addiction by abusing prescription medications. In fact, over 33% of teens in Oakland County reportedly believe that taking another person’s prescription medication is safe. To combat this epidemic, the Oakland County Prescription Drug Abuse Partnership has created educational programs for physicians. The Partnership believes that this advocacy and education can lead to more awareness of prescription painkiller abuse.

Kalamazoo County

In 2012, Kalamazoo County paramedics responded to approximately 92 calls regarding drug overdoses. This figure is a sharp increase from 2011, when only 63 calls were placed. Following the trend of the majority of Michigan counties, most of these overdoses were Opiate-related. In fact, in 2014, at least 50% of patients admitted to detox were addicted to Opiates.

Despite these disturbing trends, the county’s overdose tracking systems are inadequate. According to available statistics from the state, there were approximately 7 Heroin-related deaths in 2013, and 23 fatalities caused by other Opiates.

To help decrease the cost of addiction on the community, the county has introduced a system of Drug Courts. Through this specialized court, drug offenders receive treatment instead of jail time. With this system, not only will the addicts get the help they need, it will also help save the county over $35,000.00 per offender. According to the county, the average cost of incarceration is about $40,000.00 per year, where as the drug court treatment programs only cost about $3,800.00 per offender. The savings are projected to increase with the continued use of these dedicated drug courts.

Kent County

According to the Chief Medical Examiner, in 2014, Kent County experienced approximately 75 fatal drug overdoses. While this number is lower than the 92 deadly drug overdoses in 2013, it is still a 450% increase from 20 years ago, when there were only 17 overdose deaths. Of the overdose deaths, 25.3% were cause by Heroin, 37.5% were caused by prescription painkillers/narcotic analgesics, 13.3% were cause by Methamphetamines, 5.3% were caused by anti-depressants, 4% were caused by Cocaine, 4% were caused by anti-psychotics, 1.3% was caused by alcohol, and 9.3% was labeled as “other.”

One source of the increase in fatalities has been the presence of Fentanyl in the community. This drug, which is said to be much stronger than Heroin, has caused an alarming number of overdoses in the recent years. Luckily, the presence of Narcan, the antidote to an Opiate overdose, has been widely distributed in the area. A local program, called the Red Project, has trained nearly 2,000 area residents in the use of the lifesaving drug.

Additionally, Kent County also spends an increasing portion of its budget on mental health treatment. In 2015, $2.25 million was set aside for substance abuse treatment, this figure equates to 21% of its annual budget. In 2016, that number will increase to $2.4 million, or 23% of the budget.

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County Statistics