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Opioid Overdoses in the US Rose 30 Percent in a Year

08 March 2018

Alana M. Vivolo-Kantor, PhD, from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues examined emergency department syndromic and hospital billing data on opioid-involved overdoses during July 2016 to September 2017.

Hospitalizations for overdoses rose by 69.7 percent in the Midwest, 40.3 percent in the West, 21.3 percent in the Northeast and 20.2 percent in the Southwest.

In the Southeast, which at 14 percent had the lowest regional increase in overdose visits, Kentucky reported a statistically significant decrease of 15 percent.

The report did not break down overdoses by type of opioid, be it prescription pain pills, heroin, fentanyl or others.

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"We saw increases in every geographic region, increases in men and women, increases in all adult age groups", said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the acting director of the CDC.

Public health experts say use of the overdose antidote Naloxone, coupled with a decline in opioid prescriptions may be working.

According to CaroMont Health in Gastonia, the rate of emergency room visits for opioid-related issues in Gaston County is twice the state average.

The supply of those more risky drugs is increasing faster in some parts of the country than in others, which may help explain the geographic variations, Schuchat says.

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"We think that the number of people addicted to opioids is relatively stable".

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

The report found there were more than 142,000 ER visits for suspected opioid overdoses between July 2016 and September 2017 in 45 states, which represented a 30 percent increase from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017.

"We don't have to wait until it's too late", Schuchat said. Overdoses may have actually slightly decreased in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. "Having the right data available at the right time can help direct the right resources to the most impacted areas".

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Opioid Overdoses in the US Rose 30 Percent in a Year