Michigan 5 county drug death report shows mixed results


Patrick Jones


Sparrow Health System’s Forensic Pathology Services released their Q1 2022 report on drug deaths in the 5 counties where they act as medical examiner. The report showed increases in deaths in many areas, but some slight decreases in total deaths and benzodiazepines deaths compared to Q4 2021.

The report consisted of data on drug-related deaths from Eaton, Ingham, Ionia, Isabella, and Shiawassee counties from Jan. 1st through March 31st, 2022. 


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According to the report, Q1 2022 was one of the worst Q1 reports in the last 5 years.

Compared to Q1 2021, total drug deaths increased by 8.2%, opioid-related deaths increased by 4.9%, and cocaine-related deaths increased by 128.6%. Another large increase compared to Q1 2021 comes from amphetamine deaths, which increased by 61.5%. This data represents a consistent increase in drug-related deaths in Q1 reports across the last 5 years.


Image: Sparrow Department of Forensic Pathology


However, the changes in drug deaths are not as large compared to Q4 2021. Q1 2022 total deaths fell by roughly 3.6%, opioid deaths increased by 7%, and cocaine deaths decreased by 11%. Below is a chart that compares Q1 2021, Q4 2021, and Q1 2022.


Image: Sparrow Department of Forensic Pathology


According to the report, 73.6% of the drug-related deaths in Q1 2022 were due to a combination of more than one substance. Of all opioid deaths in Q1 2022, 20.9% also involved at least one benzodiazepine and 14% involved ethanol. 

Ingham County saw the most total deaths with an increase in all categories of drug deaths. Compared to Q4 2021, there was a 5% increase in total deaths, a 22% increase in fentanyl and/or analogue deaths, and a 25% increase in opioid deaths.


Image: Sparrow Department of Forensic Pathology