Opioid Epidemic Worsens In US With Overdoses In ERs Up 30 Percent Last Year

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Emergency rooms in the US saw an upswing in opioid overdoses last year in a trend that continues to rise as the nation battles the epidemic, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Overdoses increased by nearly 30 percent between July 2016 and September 2017, which works out to around 142,557 emergency visits. For midwestern regions, this percentage jumped even higher to 70 percent. This trend held true for both men and women of all age groups. 

“The bottom line is that no area of the United States is exempt from this epidemic,” Anne Schuchat, the CDC's acting director, told The Washington Post. She added that the ER data shows that "for every fatal case, there are many more nonfatal cases, each one with its own personal and economic toll."

The epidemic is a complicated one as opioids are used as both medical treatments and recreational drugs, and carry a high risk of addiction.

According to the CDC, 40 percent of all US opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. “As many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long term for noncancer pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction,” they note.

The CDC’s most recent analysis is based on two sets of data – one that included 91 million emergency room visits across 45 states and the other 45 million emergency visits across 16 states. 

The report, however, did not break down overdoses by the type of opioid, for example pain pills, heroin, or fentanyl. And while the same report did not mention the number of deaths involved, another recent CDC report revealed that overdose deaths in general rose by around 14 percent from July 2016 to July 2017.

The regions particularly hit hard were Wisconsin (108.6 percent), Delaware (105 percent), Pennsylvania (80.6 percent), and Illinois (65.5 percent).

States that saw a slight decrease in opioid overdoses included Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. However, Schuchat noted that these drops are likely insignificant because those states previously saw high rates of overdose. The only significant drop was in Kentucky (15 percent).

Schuchat added to The New York Times: ”This is a very difficult and fast-moving epidemic and there are no easy solutions.”


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