In honor of Overdose Awareness Day, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is launching a new program with emergency medical services (EMS) providers to further prevent opioid overdose deaths. EMS providers will give overdose survivors extra naloxone kits – the medication that reverses opioid overdoses.
In 2018, overdoses killed 2,599 Michiganders. Nearly 80 percent of those deaths involved opioids, continuing an epidemic that has devastated countless families. Overdose Awareness Day memorializes the individuals whose lives have been lost to an overdose, and marks an occasion to offer support to the family, friends and communities impacted by this epidemic.
MDHHS encourages Michiganders to help prevent overdose deaths by carrying naloxone; offering support to family and friends who use substances; and ending the stigma that surrounds substance use disorders.
Overdoses have surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, and MDHHS data shows that EMS responses for opioid overdose increased by 33 percent from April to May 2020, and still remain elevated. From April through July 2020, EMS responses for opioid overdose were 22 percent higher than the same period last year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of EMS-treated overdose patients that have declined transport to an emergency department. This indicates that EMS staff may be the only healthcare providers many individuals interact with following an overdose and underscores the urgency of this new naloxone leave behind program.