MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) – Deaths from drug overdoses are continuing to increase in Michigan and according to the Centers for Disease Control, these deaths now exceed traffic and gun deaths combined.
“We’ve seen a lot of issues with overdoses related to crystal meth and heroin and if you add prescription drugs on top of that it’s a deadly mix,” said Michigan State Police Detective Lieutenant Tim Sholander.
The CDC estimates that 2,662 Michigan residents died from drug overdoses in 2017, an 82 percent increase over five years.
“We’ve seen a lot more crystal meth and more quantities,” said Sholander. “We are seeing crystal meth purchases by the ounce which are extremely high by some users, and with those high numbers, people are getting addicted and they are going to overdose sooner or later.”
Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt said this increase overdose deaths stems from prescribed pills.
“People don’t just start out putting a needle and shooting heroin in it, they start with the pharmaceuticals and you get hooked on those things and then when you can’t get the pills anymore you go to the next thing,” said Zyburt.
Both the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office and MSP are taking full efforts to fight one of the U.P.’s most pressing issues.
“Our office has supplied an officer in UPSET, they have the drug court and have the drug take back program that encourages the public to bring in drugs they don’t use anymore,” said Zyburt.
“We do have Intel analysts with the MSP especially set up to the UPSET narcotics team that are working to identify the hot spots where we see overdoses, so we can have more of a direct approach when we investigate and try to slow down these crimes,” said Sholander.
Sholander added that the drug overdose hot spots include, Gogebic, Ontonagon, Baraga, Delta and Menominee counties.
They say being close to the Wisconsin border may have to do with the increase.
“The more interdiction that we have and the drug busts that we make, the more lives we are saving,” said Sholander.
Both said this is not an issue that will disappear overnight, however drug education could be the start of the end game.