Number of Overdoses Increase in Clare County, Three Already This Year

Overdoses causing death doubled last year in Clare County. Now in 2021, the county opioid investigator says they’re already off to a scary start.

“You know it’s there, but until you actually get into doing this, you don’t really realize to what extent,” says Dale Heugel, opioid detective for Clare County.

In 2019, Heugel says he was excited to start his new career as a opioid detective in Clare County. Now, nearly two years on the job, he says he didn’t think it would be to the extent of what it is.

“Of course being my first year up here I knew there were overdoses, but I didn’t realize to what extent they were, till I started compiling stats and going out on these overdoses,” says Heugel.

In 2019, Clare County reported 32 overdoses and five deaths.

In 2020, that number rose to 48 overdoses and 10 deaths.

Now, only three weeks into 2021, the county’s seen three overdoses and one death.

“I think it probably has because of COVID, because a lot of people are out, a lot more stress on families due to no work that maybe they had before,” says Heugel.

However, Heugel says the number of overdoses could be even higher… As more people have access to Narcans that rapidly reverse opioid overdose.

“A lot of overdoses we believe are happening, but yet police aren’t getting called to them and medical aren’t getting called to them because people don’t’ want anybody to know about them,” says Heugel.

And it’s not just happening in one area. On a map of Clare County, Heugel sticks a star on every overdose reported. Out of the 16 townships in Clare County, 11 show the harrowing mark of addiction.

“It’s happening everywhere,” says Heugel.

And not just in Clare County. Heugle works with detectives across Michigan and the United States, trying to catch where these drugs are coming from.

“They don’t let the county line be a barrier, it’s happening all over the area,” says Heugel.