Published: Wed, March 07, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

Opioid overdoses spike 30 percent across nation — CDC report

Opioid overdoses spike 30 percent across nation — CDC report

There's more bad news about the nation's devastating opioid epidemic.

Emergency room visits due to opioid overdose grew by 35 percent in 16 states over the past year, according to the emergency room data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All together, emergency visits for suspected opioid overdoses increased by 35 percent across the 16 states surveyed. Some parts of the country experienced far greater increases than others while a few reported declines, the analysis shows.

"The fast-moving opioid overdose epidemic continues and is accelerating".

Opioid overdoses were up 30% in the previous year across the United States, a study by a federal agency has found.

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The highest jump among the Midwestern states was 109% in Wisconsin.

The Midwest, in particular, saw a 70 percent increase in opioid overdoses.

While the CDC did not look at the source of opioids, Schuchat said illicit fentanyl-laced heroin is "a very major problem right now".

Some changes to health programs, especially the public health insurance program for the poor, Medicaid, may be counterproductive to treating people addicted to opioids. "But the substances are more unsafe than five years ago", Schuchat says. It's not that more people are abusing drugs, it's the kind of drugs they're using.

According to Ben Miller, chief strategy officer for Well Being Trust, a national health policy foundation, the continued worsening of the opioid crisis isn't surprising given that the United States has failed to come up with a comprehensive response to the epidemic. Belated efforts to rein in distribution fueled a resurgence of heroin and the emergence of a deadly, black market version of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

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However, neither Congress nor the White House has appropriated new funding to treat people affected by the opioid crisis, despite pleas from public health officials, some of whom have put a starting price tag at $6bn. "But nothing yet has happened". He added that communities and the country should broaden their perspective to include looking at health care, education, economy and more, and in that process, may develop better ideas on how to stem early death. Too often addicts are simply revived and sent home without follow-up care, only to overdose again, she says. "We're just working to save that person's life in the moment", he says.

The new figures are based on an updated tracking system the helps hone in on the correct number of opioid-related cases faster, the CDC said.

In Kentucky, a state hit hard by the opioid epidemic, emergency department visits for overdoses decreased by 15 percent over the study period.

All five monitored regions revealed a spike in people with possible opioid overdoses between July 2016 and September 2017, according to data from the CDC's Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance Program.

Northeastern states such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island showed lower emergency room visits, but there is not enough data to know if local interventions were the reason.

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That analysisshowed a 34.5 percent increase between the same periods in 2016 and 2017. Elsewhere, Delaware reported an 105 percent increase while Pennsylvania and North Carolina reported increases of 81 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

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