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Opioid Crisis Worsens: ER Admissions Up 30 Percent
07 March 2018, 07:54 | Melissa Porter
ER visits for opioid overdose up 30%, CDC study finds
There's more bad news about the nation's devastating opioid epidemic.
A report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the US opioid overdose epidemic is worsening.
"Long before we receive data from death certificates, emergency department data can point to alarming increases in opioid overdoses", said CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. "The fast-moving opioid overdose epidemic continues and is accelerating".
They comprised half of all the 8 states in the program to report a significant increase of 25% or more. The largest increase - 109 percent - was in Wisconsin.
All five USA regions experienced rate increases; the largest was in the Midwest (70 percent), followed by the West (40 percent), Northeast (21 percent), Southwest (20 percent), and Southeast (14 percent).
The data show that opioid overdoses increased for men and women, all age groups, and all regions, but varied by state, with differences also between rural and urban populations.
The CDC called for addiction prevention education, improved treatment efforts in the emergency rooms and greater access to services that can help people recover, such as medication-assisted treatment.
The report didn't specify why overdoses vary across the country.
However, 63,632 people died of drug overdose deaths in 2016 in the United States, a 21.4 percent increase from 2015, the CDC said.
"We think that the number of people addicted to opioids is relatively stable. But on top of that, the heroin and other illicit drug supply has gotten even more unsafe than it used to be", said Schuchat. "The margin of error for taking one of these substances is small now and people may not know what they have".
That's partly because many overdoses occur away from hospitals. "It is concerning that 20 years into this epidemic, it is still getting worse".
Alert communities to rapid increases in overdoses seen in EDs and coordinate an informed and timely response.
"It's kind of like pointing to a burning building and saying, 'Oh, there's a fire there". While calling for increased funding for addiction treatment, Kolodny compares the Trump administration's labeling of the crisis as an emergency to a person pointing out a house on fire, "then not calling the fire department". "There's been a lot of talk from Congress and from the administration and a recognition that we need to do something about this problem".
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