LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Compared to this time last year, Sparrow reports that drug deaths are down by 33% in five mid-Michigan counties.

A 16-page analysis from Sparrow’s Office of the Medical Examiner details a decrease in opioid-related deaths, fentanyl-related deaths, and more.

“You know, it’s too new of a trend to be relieved, but hopeful is the thing. And that’s really important for us who are serving here,” Executive Director of Mid-Michigan Recovery Services Patrick Patterson said. 

Across Eaton, Ingham, Ionia, Isabella and Shiawassee Counties, there were a total of 40 drug-related deaths, compared to 60 this time last year.

“We’ve been on a constant rise since 2018,” said Chief Investigator with the Office of the Medical Examiner and Supervisor for Sparrow Forensic Pathology, Michelle Fox. “’19 was higher than ’18, ’20, and then ’21, and then they just kept steadily going up. And then this year we actually saw quarter two go down to the same as 2018 levels which is a great find.” 

Sparrow defines drug deaths as deaths that resulted entirely or partially from “physiologic effects of acute toxicity.”

Deaths that are not included in the report are deaths by violence, meaning violent behavior could have been caused by intoxication, as well as deaths related to the effects of chronic substance use.

Typically at the time of one’s death related to drug intoxication, there is more than one drug present in the system of the person who died.

It takes a combination of an autopsy, a review of records (toxicology reports, etc.), and a medical examiner’s evaluation to determine what substances played a role in the person’s death.

The graph is courtesy of Sparrow’s Department of Forensic Pathology.

Report Summary

Another category that saw fewer deaths was opioid-related drugs, which decreased by 34%, or 17 fewer. Fentanyl, as well as fentanyl analog-related drug deaths, decreased by 28% compared to the second quarter of 2021.

Cocaine-related deaths did not change between this year and this time last year.

Three out of four deaths this quarter involved two or more substances, and around 10% of all drug related deaths involved alcohol.

Mitragynine, also known as Kratom, was present in four deaths. Three were “in conjunction” with fentanyl and one was solely Kratom.

Historical Data

On a historical scale, drug-related deaths are on the decline compared to the second quarter of 2020 and 2021, but are almost at the 2018 rate of drug-related deaths for the second quarter.

The graph is courtesy of Sparrow’s Department of Forensic Pathology.

For a report of drug deaths in the first quarter of 2022, click here.