Forensic Fluids Laboratories
Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Buprenorphine and Fentanyl drug use are on the rise throughout the Midwest, according to data collected by Michigan-based oral fluid testing lab, Forensic Fluids Laboratories.
Headquartered in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Forensic Fluids Laboratories (FFL) collected data in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio from 2014-2018. The study includes oral fluid drug testing results that FFL has been contracted to perform by state operated agencies, including the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Indiana Department of Child Services and Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
“Oral fluid drug testing is a non-invasive analysis practiced by government and law enforcement agencies to accurately and efficiently assess drug use,” said Bridget Lorenz Lemberg, toxicologist and Laboratory Director of Forensic Fluids Laboratories. “It yields the same result as taking a blood sample without needing to use a needle, and is easier to administer and more accurate than urine testing.”
Some counties, such as Montgomery, Delaware and Wood, have positive Cocaine rates more than double that of areas in Guernsey, Wayne and Muskingum. Many counties show rates of Cocaine positives across all years examined by FFL.
Fentanyl use increased in areas surrounding Ohio’s more urban counties, especially in the northeast and southwest parts of the state. Fentanyl is an opioid commonly used for pain management in cancer patients. Fentanyl is considered one of the most potent opioid pain relievers prescribed, as it is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin.
The number of counties showing Methamphetamine use significantly increased in the rural southeast part of the state. From the years 2014 to 2018, the total number of Indiana counties showing a high positive Methamphetamine rate increased from 4 to 29.
Overall, the use of Cocaine in Indiana decreased significantly. The counties with the highest Cocaine usage remain those with large urban areas. These counties are Marion (Indianapolis), Allen (Fort Wayne), Lake (Gary), Porter (Valparaiso) and La Porte (Michigan City). The proximity to a major highway, such as I-94, correlated with high Cocaine usage in these counties.
Overall, total positive rates for all drugs increased in almost all Michigan counties. Some counties and regions showed interesting trends in the case of Methamphetamine and Buprenorphine.
The number of counties showing high positive rates for Methamphetamine increased substantially, from 10 counties in 2015 to 46 counties in 2018. The western and central Lower Peninsula and the western Upper Peninsula saw the greatest expansion of high positive Methamphetamine rate counties. Metro Detroit showed a low positive Methamphetamine rate of 1 percent, while the northernmost parts of the Upper Peninsula (Baraga, Houghton and Keweenaw) saw positive Methamphetamine rates of 25 percent (Baraga, Houghton and Keweenaw).
Additionally, Buprenorphine is trending toward higher rates in counties of the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula. Buprenorphine is an opioid medication used to treat opioid addiction, acute pain, and chronic pain.
“The data we collected through oral fluid testing is a strong indicator of the drug usage trends in both rural and urban counties throughout the Midwest,” Lorenz Lemberg said. “By providing a deeper insight of drug use from state-to-state, we hope our data becomes a beneficial resource for local governing officials and law enforcement agencies as they work to address concerns in their communities.”