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Michigan says opioid-related deaths continuing to rise

A study finds that despite the ability of medication-assisted treatment drugs like methadone and buprenorphine to save the lives of people who've overdosed on opioids, they continue to be underutilized.
A study finds that despite the ability of medication-assisted treatment drugs like methadone and buprenorphine to save the lives of people who've overdosed on opioids, they continue to be underutilized. (Shutterstock via CNN)

LANSING, Mich. – State officials say opioid deaths jumped by about 9 percent last year in Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that 1,941 of the 2,729 overdose deaths in 2017 were opioid-related. There were 1,786 opioid-related deaths in 2016.

The state notes a steady increase in overdose deaths during the last three years.

Opioids include heroin, prescription opioids, and nonpharmaceutical fentanyl. The state now includes opium and unspecified narcotics in its definition.

Efforts to combat the epidemic include providing online resources for patients, health workers and communities; an automated prescription system aimed at improving assessments of a patient’s substance abuse risk; and drug take-back sites.

The department last year issued a standing order pre-authorizing pharmacists to distribute the overdose reversal drug naloxone to eligible individuals.