Kalamazoo County Medical Director Will Nettleton says there’s no change in methodology, or how deaths are counted that explains a sharp rise in deaths last year related to opioids. He says Kalamazoo County is simply following the national trend.
Nettleton, who also serves as Calhoun County’s Medical Director, says deaths due to opioids have quickly risen to the top of his priorities. He says the substance abuse numbers should be addressed as a public health problem.
Deaths related to opioids spiked last year. 59 people in the county died because of opioids, compared to 29 in 2015. Nettleton presented the findings in a report to Kalamazoo County Commissioners last week.
Nettleton says addressing opioids will take time. “It took 20 years to get here, it will some time to get out.” He says that requires working with law enforcement, medicine and other professions. Nettleton says the opioid issue didn’t exist 15 years ago. He says systems and partnerships had to be established.