Emergency department visits for opioid overdoses rose 30 percent in 45 states reporting from July 2016 through September 2017. according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Overdoses increased by almost 30 percent between July 2016 and September 2017, which works out to around 142,557 emergency visits.
The epidemic is a complicated one as opioids are used as both medical treatments and recreational drugs, and carry a high risk of addiction. Opioid overdoses increased for men and women, all age groups, and all regions, but varied by state, with rural/urban differences.
While there was no state-by-state breakdown of visits by the CDC, the Maine Hospital Association estimated that there were about 1,500 to 2,000 visits to Maine emergency departments for opioid overdoses in the year measured.
Support programs that reduce harms which can occur when injecting opioids, including those that offer screening for HIV and hepatitis B and C, in combination with referral to treatment. The only significant drop was in Kentucky (15 percent).
The Attorney General's office reported that a major factor in overdoses increasing is the presence of fentanyl mixed with heroin, making the drugs more powerful and more likely to cause an overdose.
The report noted the central role of state and local health departments in coordinating responses to opioid overdoses. "We are building the capacity for prevention and treatment to try to keep people out of the EDs", Harris said.
"This increase reinforces the need for us to work together: government, health care, behavioral health, community-based organizations, substance use disorder treatment programs, clinicians, pharmacists, law enforcement, and others, to implement strategies to help reverse the growing epidemic", Shah said in an emailed statement. "We know that prescribing patterns for opioids have been high in some rural areas", Schuchat said. That would involve training hospital physicians to administer the first dose of medications that reduce patients' opioid withdrawal symptoms so that they aren't sent out into the city without any defense against the itch for their next fix. The CDC now recommends against using opioids for chronic pain.