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New Michigan landscape map highlights counties affected hardest by opioid epidemic

Michigan opioid crisis map

Contact: Cole Dzubak,

Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan and the Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network (OPEN) have partnered together to create a landmap of Michigan that shows demographic information with a connection to Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). This landscape map, and accompanying white paper, look at data such as unemployment rates, annual income, opioid-related hospitalizations, as well as physical and mental health and well-being.

To create this landscape map, Poverty Solutions and OPEN used available data from sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, among others. 

Luke Shaefer profile photo

Luke Shaefer

“Substance abuse is a complex medical issue with ties to mental health, lack of social infrastructure, and limited economic mobility. Analyzing multiple indicators related to opioid use, access to medical care, and poverty provides new insights into the causes and consequences of Michigan’s opioid epidemic,” said H. Luke Shaefer, faculty director of Poverty Solutions and the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at the Ford School of Public Policy.

Along with documenting different demographics, the new landscape map also highlights three county clusters that have been especially affected by the opioid epidemic. The Bay County cluster includes Genesee, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Iosco, and Alcona counties. The Marquette County region includes the Marquette, Baraga, Dickinson, Delta, and Menominee counties. The Wayne-Macomb-St.Clair County cluster includes Wayne, Macomb, and St. Clair counties.

“This tool will allow us, and other organizations, to focus our programs, education, and resources on the counties that need them most. This new landscape map is a helpful next step in reducing the impact of the opioid crisis,” said Dr. Chad Brummett, co-director of both OPEN and the University of Michigan Opioid Research Institute. 

Through researching and analyzing the data sets collected, these three clusters were found to be some of the highest ranked areas in the state for opioid-related connections. Counties in the Bay County cluster rank amongst the highest in the state for opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related emergency department visits, and opioid prescribing. Counties in the Wayne-Macomb-St. Clair County cluster rank amongst the highest in the state for opioid-related hospitalizations and opioid-related emergency department visits. Counties in the Marquette County cluster rank amongst the highest in the state for opioid prescribing. Together, these clusters hold four of the top five counties in the state in terms of rates of admission for opioid treatment.

John Bulat

John Bulat

With the completion of this project, the teams at both Poverty Solutions and OPEN hope that organizations will be able to look at this data and discover ways to engage further with their communities and reduce the impact of the opioid epidemic. 

“There are many great organizations throughout the state making positive contributions to the fight against opioid use disorder. As the opioid crisis continues to evolve and the number of fatal opioid overdoses continues to rise, it’s our hope that maps and reports like these can provide new insights into the problem at hand and supplement the work that is already being done,” added John Bulat, data and policy analyst with Poverty Solutions who worked on the opioid landscape map and analysis.