Washtenaw County Health Department: Overdose deaths increased 33% in three years

293 deaths from 2020-2022

It is possible for someone to take a pill without knowing it contains fentanyl. It is also possible to take a pill knowing it contains fentanyl, but with no way of knowing if it contains a lethal dose, according to the DEA. (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A new report from the Washtenaw County Health Department shows that drug overdose-related deaths increased by 33% between 2020 and 2022.

Data shows that there were a total of 293 deaths attributed to opioids and non-opioid substances during those three years. Of that total, there were 82 deaths in 2020, 102 in 2021 and 109 in 2022.

Officials said 86% of opioid overdose deaths in 2022 involved fentanyl, 75% involved other substances and 63% involved stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamine. Cocaine was involved in 56% of opioid overdoses, and methamphetamine was involved in 10%.

Overdose deaths in Washtenaw County involving the non-opioid tranquilizer Xylazine doubled from 4 deaths in 2021 to 8 deaths in 2022. Xylazine is not approved for human use and is added to opiods, like fentanyl, officials said.

“Our analysis shows opioid overdose deaths and drug overdose deaths overall increased locally, and while African Americans were already overrepresented in opioid-related deaths in 2021, the death rate increased by 80% in 2022,” said Washtenaw County Health Department epidemiologist Kaitlin Schwarz in a release.

“The majority of opioid-related deaths continue to involve more than just opioids,” said Schwarz. “Anyone who uses substances and their family, friends, or acquaintances should be aware of resources like naloxone and know how to use them.”

Here’s what the report says:

  • Opioid-related deaths in Black residents rose from 15 deaths in 2021 to 27 deaths in 2022
  • 61% of deaths were of white residents, which is a 22% decrease
  • Residents ages 25-54 years old accounted for 75% of deaths
  • Overdose deaths in women rose from 23 deaths in 2021 to 28 in 2022
  • 65% of deaths were of men
  • The average age of residents who died by overdose rose from 40 in 2021 to 44 in 2022

Read the report here.

Washtenaw County residents who need help with substance use can contact Washtenaw County Community Mental Health at 734-544-3050 or 800-440-7548.

Treatment and support can also be found at the Washtenaw Health Initiative Opioid Project or by calling Families Against Narcotics: Washtenaw at 734-210-9739. 

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.