Local hospitals are feeling the impact of increasing overdoses

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DETROIT (WXYZ) – Local health systems are currently under fire with two alarming trends: spikes in COVID-19 cases and an increase in the number of overdoses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100,000 Americans have died of an overdose between May 2020 and April 2021. Rise in overdoses affects nationwide, all but four states see death tolls soar .

According to CDC data, the states with the largest peaks were Vermont with a 70% increase, West Virginia with a 62% increase, and Kentucky with a 55% increase.

The number of overdoses in Michigan is up nearly 20% from last year.

The emergency physician and medical director of opioid use disorders at Beaumont Hospital in Troy said the healthcare system is also seeing an increase of around 20% in overdoses, reflecting national and state trends.

This is happening because hospitals are already overcrowded due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.

“Across the healthcare system, we’ve seen around 2,000 overdoses in the past 10 to 11 months,” Eckenswiller said.

It’s a mix, he said, of regular addicts and those who don’t know what they’re really taking.

“People might come in, think they’re at a party and they’re taking cocaine or an amphetamine or something and they don’t know it’s actually mixed with a very potent and potent opiate,” he said. Eckenswiller told 7 Action News.

Fentanyl, a designer drug often mixed with other opiates, can be fatal even in small amounts and is often difficult to detect.

“It is becoming more and more popular, available and inexpensive,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.

Bouchard said more “definitely” fentanyl is on the streets of Oakland County this year.

In order to combat this growing problem, the Oakland County Jail is one of the first in Michigan to launch a program with the help of Wayne State University. It is a vending machine that provides free naloxone – Narcan brand name – to departing inmates.

Naloxone saves lives because it can reverse the effects of opioids, which has been shown to be essential for first responders arriving at overdose calls.

“When they’re in jail, there’s a program we called MAT: Medically Assisted Treatment. But when they leave, we want to send them armed with the tool to maybe save a friend, ”Bouchard said.

Narcan’s impact is something Bouchard sees on a daily basis. As recently as last week, his assistants resuscitated three people in just 12 hours.

While health care providers are concerned about this large increase in the number of overdoses, worsening addictions are also of great concern, said Erika Alexander of Oakland Family Services. She has counseled children and adults struggling with drug addiction.

“We are seeing many cases of people with worsening substance use disorders,” Alexander said, attributing the problem in part to the stress of the pandemic.

Dr. Andrew King is an emergency physician at Detroit Medical Center. He is also medical director of Michigan Poison Center and addiction specialist at Wayne Health. He said the pandemic has exacerbated opioid abuse and reports that the DMC has seen an increase in opioid and alcohol overdoses.

“Time is not a luxury for patients, especially after an overdose,” he said, urging opioid users to wear Narcan.

King also said that in recent years, emergency rooms across the region have started working together to help connect drug addiction patients with resources to help them.

“After a non-fatal overdose, if someone comes along and doesn’t die and we are able to bring them back, their risk of dying next year is 5%, so 1 in 20 people,” he said. he declares.

Below are resources for those struggling with addiction and seeking help:


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