CDC Head on Opioid Report: 'This Is a Wake-Up Call'

ER overdoses up 30% across the US
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2018 9:30 AM CST
In a Year, 2 States Saw ER Opioid Overdoses Double
Experts believe fentanyl, seen here, is linked to an increase in overdoses.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

America's opioid epidemic is getting worse, not better, according to an alarming new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Tuesday report shows opioid overdoses that led to emergency room visits across the country jumped 30% from July 2016 to September 2017. In the Midwest, overdoses jumped 70%, due in part to increases of 109% in Wisconsin and 65.5% in Illinois, report NPR and CNN. Emergency room overdoses also jumped 40% in the West, 21% in the Northeast—tied to increases of 105% in Delaware and 81% in Pennsylvania—20% in the Southwest, and 14% 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," Acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat tells NPR, pointing out the crisis may be worse than the data suggest.

That's partly because many overdoses occur away from hospitals. But CNN reports the increases in emergency room overdoses in the West and Southwest weren't expected and "might foreshadow death trends to come," as one overdose increases a person's chance of a second. "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," says Schuchat. Opioid researcher Andrew Kolodny agrees on that point, telling NPR there's "a recognition that we need to do something about this problem. But nothing yet has happened." While calling for increased funding for addiction treatment, Kolodny compares the Trump administration's labeling of the crisis as an emergency to a person pointing out a house on fire, "then not calling the fire department." (Read more opioids stories.)

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