Jump In Overdoses Shows Opioid Epidemic Has Worsened

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says ER visits for opioid overdoses rose 30 percent in 45 states from July 2016 through September 2017

CDC: Opioid overdose emergency room visits up 30 percent nationwide; decrease in Massachusetts

Emergency room visits for suspected opioid overdoses increased 109 percent in Wisconsin from July 2016 to September 2017, the highest spike among 16 states closely tracked, federal health officials said Tuesday.

The increase was worst in the Midwest and in large metropolitan areas.

Dr. Tom Scaletta is an emergency room physician in Naperville, Illinois, where they treated 500 opioid-dependent patients past year.

This fast-moving epidemic affects all ages, genders and states and is still increasing across the US, she said. But those increases varied dramatically from state to state, even within a region.

The CDC report found the opioid-related emergency room visits rose an average 35 percent across 16 states between July 2016 and September 2017. In the first nine months of 2017, the state had 609 opioid deaths, a 5 percent decrease from the same period in 2016. Increases were seen in rates across demographic groups and all 5 US regions; the largest increases were seen in the Southwest, Midwest, and West (about 7 to 11% per quarter).

"We're now seeing the highest drug overdose death rates ever recorded in the United States, driven by prescription opioids and by illicit opioids such as heroin and illicitly-manufactured fentanyl,"Anne Schuchat, MD, acting director of the CDC, said during a telebriefing on the report".

The decline in deaths is likely due "to increased awareness about the opioid crisis, as well as an increase in the use of naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses", said Jennifer Miller, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health Services.

"Emergency department education and post-overdose protocols, including providing naloxone and linking people to treatment, are critical needs", Vivolo-Kantor said.

"The science is clear: addiction is a chronic disease and not a moral failing".

The report calls on health departments to better inform its communities of these significant rates, as well as increase access to treatments and resources to overdose and addiction. "The number of Americans experiencing opioid overdoses is still increasing".

"We wanted more timely information", Schuchat says. Overdoses may have actually slightly decreased in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

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