Opioid Overdose Hike of 30% Underlines National ‘Emergency’

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In just one year, overdoses from opioids jumped by about 30 percent, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), NPR reports.

The overall increase in opioid overdoses in hospital emergency rooms between the third quarter of 2016 and the third quarter of 2017 occurred across the nation. Some parts of the U.S. experienced far greater increases, while a few have reported declines, the analysis shows.

“We have an emergency on our hands,” says acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat. “The fast-moving opioid overdose epidemic continues and is accelerating.”

The largest regional increase occurred in the Midwest, which saw a 69.7 percent jump in overdoses. The jump was driven in part by a 109 percent increase in Wisconsin. Overdoses increased 40.3 percent in the West, 21.3 percent in the Northeast, 20.2 percent in the Southwest and 14 percent in the Southeast.

“We saw, sadly, that in every region, in every age group of adults, in both men and women, overdoses from opioids are increasing,” Schuchat says.

The latest data could underestimate the overdoses, because many people who overdose never end up in the emergency room. “It might be even worse,” says Schuchat. Overdoses rates may vary because of differences in availability of newer, highly potent illegal opioids, such as fentanyl.

“We think that the number of people addicted to opioids is relatively stable. But the substances are more dangerous than five years ago,” Schuchat says. “The margin of error for taking one of these substances is small now and people may not know what they have.”

Dr. Andrew Kolodny of Brandeis University says that, “Overall as a nation, we are still failing to adequately respond to the opioid addiction epidemic. It is concerning that 20 years into this epidemic, it is still getting worse.”

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