Drug overdose deaths in the United States declined 5.1% in 2018, according to preliminary data released Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order on Wednesday creating the Michigan Opioids Task Force.

The task force is geared at tackling the state's opioid epidemic.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for the state, will serve as chair of the task force.

“As governor, my number one priority is protecting our families and our overall public health,” Whitmer said. “Right now, Michigan is among the states with the highest levels of opioid prescriptions and overdose deaths, with 2,053 overdoses in 2017 alone. This task force will bring us one step closer to finally ending the opioid epidemic in Michigan and keeping families safe.”

The task force will be charged with identifying the root causes of the problem and implementing response actions to help residents struggling with opioid addiction.

“Too many families have been devastated by the opioid epidemic in Michigan,” Khaldun said. “If we’re going to keep Michiganders safe and healthy, we must get to work addressing this crisis. The team at MDHHS is ready to work with all of our partners in state government to help Michiganders get on the road to recovery and prevent opioid addiction in the first place.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel released the following statement in response to Whitmer's executive order:

"The opioids epidemic has far-reaching implications on Michiganders, our communities and our economy. I applaud Gov. Whitmer for taking a proactive and comprehensive approach to combating this epidemic by creating a task force that gets at the root of this systemic public health crisis. Michigan wins when we all work together to tackle challenges and my office stands ready to support the Governor’s efforts and play an active role in this task force."

Copyright 2019 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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