Despite Headlines and Interventions, Opioid Overdoses Surge

Despite Headlines and Interventions, Opioid Overdoses Surge

Despite Headlines and Interventions, Opioid Overdoses Surge

Emergency department (ED) visits for suspected opioid overdoses rose by 30% throughout the U.S.in a year, according to the CDC.

Emergency rooms around the country saw a spike in patients overdosing on opioids previous year, according to data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and released Tuesday.

"Long before we receive data from death certificates, emergency department data can point to alarming increases in opioid overdoses", said acting director Anne Schuchat.

Every state in the Midwest region experienced large increases: Wisconsin (109 percent), IL (66 percent), in (35 percent), OH (28 percent) and Missouri (21 percent).

Jennifer Miller, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health Services, said many suspected opioid overdoses in ERs don't become confirmed cases.

A report out Tuesday says the jump took place between July 2016 and September 2017.

The rate of opioid overdoses increased on average by 5.6 percent throughout the year, across all demographic groups and all five US regions.

The largest regional increase occurred in the Midwest, which saw a 69.7 percent jump in opioid overdoses, according to the report. But a report by NPR suggested the availability of highly potent drugs like fentanyl may have had an impact on the number of overdoses there.

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Miller attributed the decline in opioid deaths "to increased awareness about the opioid crisis, as well as an increase in the use of naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses".

"We're seeing the highest ever death rates in the U.S.", Schuchat said.

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

"We imagine that the quantity of people dependent on opioids is generally steady". Substantial increases in overdose rates cut across all categories, including men (30 percent) and women (24 percent), and people aged 25 to 34 (31 percent), 35 to 54 (36 percent), and 55 or older (32 percent).

At the start of the opioid epidemic, US policy focused on stemming the flow of prescription opioids from doctors and pharmacies, Miller said. She called ERs "essential hubs" in the fight against the opioid epidemic, and said the CDC recommends that emergency departments institute "warm handoffs", a practice in increasing use in the region, where people in addiction can be sent directly to treatment from the ER after an overdose.

STEIN: But some parts of the country are being hit harder than others. Overdoses are often associated with rural America but metropolitan areas with 1 million or more people saw the steepest increase, at 54%.

Public health experts have asserted that the naloxone - an overdose-reversing drug - and access to counseling and medically-assisted addiction therapies (MAT) may be the greatest weapons against the opioid epidemic, but that the government has been slow to embrace them.

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