Opioid overdoses kill nearly 5 people every hour in the US — CDC

Opioid overdoses kill nearly 5 people every hour in the US — CDC

The American Midwest saw an unprecedented 69.7 percent surge in opioid-related overdoses, which is a direct result of Wisconsin's 109 percent spike.

They found that during the study period, opioid overdoses were suspected in 142,557 ED visits, or 15.7 per 10,000 visits, from 52 jurisdictions in 45 states.

The researchers found that 142,557 emergency department visits (15.7 per 10,000 visits) were suspected opioid-involved overdoses from July 2016 through September 2017.

Previously, the agency looked at death from opioids, which lag behind reports from emergency rooms.

"The fast-moving opioid overdose epidemic continues and is accelerating ..." "We saw, sadly, that in every region, in every age group of adults, in both men and women, overdoses from opioids are increasing", Acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat tells NPR, pointing out the crisis may be worse than the data suggest.

Schuchat cautioned the CDC data could be a low-end estimate, as some drug users may avoid going to an emergency department when they overdose.

More news: US Announces $533m Humanitarian Assistance For Nigeria, Others

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. Health officials say the increase may be due to the availability of different or more powerful drugs like fentanyl.

"Educating emergency department physicians and staff members about appropriate services for immediate care and treatment and implementing a post-overdose protocol that includes naloxone provision and linking persons into treatment could assist emergency departments with preventing overdose", the authors write. Schuchat said they are hearing about many "innovative" strategies across the U.S.to provide help to people who need treatment.

But Harris said many people who have substance use disorder are uninsured, and trying to get the uninsured into a medication-assisted treatment program is hard.

"We think that the idea of initiating medically-assisted treatment in the emergency department is an innovative and exciting strategy", Schuchat said.

"The science is clear - addiction is a chronic disease and not a moral failing", he said. "Closer coordination between public health and public safety can serve to address changes in the illicit opioid supply and use of illicit opioids, which affects overdose rates", she continued.

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