Opioid Epidemic Continues To Worsen, Spike In Overdoses Nationwide

Simon Moss
March 8, 2018

According to a report published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation's hospitalization rate directly linked to opioid misuse has risen about 30 percent, which is an alarming figure bar none. The Midwest saw the most dramatic increase - about 70 percent.

In 2017, ME saw 418 drug-related overdoses.

The latest data available to the CDC show that emergency room visits due to opioid overdoses increased by almost a third from July 2016 through to September 2017.

The CDC's most recent analysis is based on two sets of data - one that included 91 million emergency room visits across 45 states and the other 45 million emergency visits across 16 states. But preliminary numbers from CDC show drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma rose by 12 percent, to 844 people.

"The fast-moving opioid overdose epidemic continues and is accelerating".

"Opioid overdoses increased for men and women, all age groups, and all regions", said the report.

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. Timely treatment with naloxone can reverse the effects of opioids.

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Jennifer Miller, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health Services, said many suspected opioid overdoses in ERs don't become confirmed cases. "Research shows that people who have had at least one overdose are more likely to have another".

The report calls on health departments to better inform its communities of these significant rates, as well as increase access to treatments and resources to overdose and addiction. "We are building the capacity for prevention and treatment to try to keep people out of the EDs", Harris said.

The findings in the report could help identify and track overdoses in a way that helps the development of responses from both the medical community and law enforcement agencies, Schuchat said.

Among the solutions is increasing access to medication-assisted treatment, which combines behavioral therapy with medication to reduce withdrawal symptoms, Shah said.

Schuchat further admits that "we think that the number of people addicted to opioids is relatively stable". "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.

Dr. Stephen Hull, a pain specialist at Mercy Hospital, said that the article is the latest study of many to question whether opioids should be used for chronic pain.

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