University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Healing Michigan: An Examination of State-Level Responses to the Opioid Epidemic in Michigan

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April 2017

Benjamin P. Greenberg

Abstract

An epidemic has silently swept across America with no regard for race, location, or socioeconomic status. The recent opiate epidemic, characterized by the sudden surge in usage among Americans, is considered the most fatal drug crisis recorded in United States history. With over 1.9 million Americans addicted to prescription drugs and opiates, the state of Michigan lies directly in the path of destruction: the number of drug overdose deaths in the state— a majority of which are from prescription drugs — has tripled since 19992. This staggering number of Americans addicted to prescription opioids is particularly disturbing because prescription opioids serve as gateway drugs to heroin, an illegal drug which is cheaper, gives a more intense high, and has a higher fatality rate. In fact, 4 out of 5 heroin users started on prescription opioids.

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