Jump In Overdoses Shows Opioid Epidemic Has Worsened

A man injects heroin into his arm at Kurt Cobain Memorial Park in Aberdeen Wash. on June 13. The U.S. government says non-fatal overdoses visits to hospital emergency rooms were up about 30 per cent late last summer compared to the same three-month per

In 16 states hard-hit by the opioid epidemic, ER visits from overdoses rose 35 percent during that time.

The data reports that, from the same time frame as the ESOOS Program report, all 5 United States regions experienced increases in overdose rates.

Substantial increases in overdoses were seen nationwide, said the report released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Emergency departments can provide naloxone - a drug that combats overdoses - and recommend treatment to patients, making it an important frontline in the nation's opioid epidemic, the report said.

Dr. Brian Sharp, who works in the ER at UW Hospital, said UW has seen an uptick in overdoses of prescription opioids and illicit opioids such as heroin and illegally formulated fentanyl.

The report also suggests emergency departments coordinate with local health departments, state officials, treatment providers and police to identify an action plan to get people into treatment.

"This is a very hard and fast-moving epidemic", she said.

Central DuPage recently added seven beds, for a total of 20, to its adult inpatient detox and residential program, and is offering several new patient education groups on overdose prevention and withdrawal-reduction drugs.

"We really think that this is a wake-up call for all of us - that the opioid epidemic is in all of our communities and that there's more that we need to do", Schuchat said.

The other states in the study were Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Ohio, Rhode Island and West Virginia. States in the region, including OH and MI, were already among those with the highest opioid death rates.

"As medical professionals are becoming more aware of the potential for a patient to have an opioid overdose, the number of suspected cases will increase", she said. Overdoses in the Southeast rose at the slowest rate, increasing by 14 percent.

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