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Opioid-related emergency room visits grew by 35 percent in a year

Every demographic saw increases in overdoses

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A woman, passed out on heroin, is reflected in a mirror under a bridge where she lives with other addicts in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.
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Emergency room visits due to opioid overdose grew by 35 percent in 16 states over the past year, according to the emergency room data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Today’s data covers July 2016 to September 2017 and comes from the CDC’s Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance (ESOOS) Program, which collects information on both fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses. Though overdose-related ER visits varied by region, the number increased for every demographic group. And in metropolitan areas (meaning areas around a city with a population of over 1 million), the number of overdoses grew by 54 percent.

In the Midwest, overdoses increased 109 percent in Wisconsin, 66 percent in Illinois, and 35 percent in Indiana. Elsewhere, Delaware reported an 105 percent increase while Pennsylvania and North Carolina reported increases of 81 percent and 31 percent, respectively. However, states like Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island showed decreases of less than 10 percent. And Kentucky reported a decrease of 15 percent.

Using data from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) BioSense Platform, the CDC found that every demographic group experienced increases in rates of overdose in this period. Men reported an increase of 30 percent, while women reported 24 percent. There was also an approximate increase of 33 percent across every age range, from 25 to 55 and older.

The opioid epidemic is a serious public health crisis that has been causing life expectancy to go down. President Trump declared it a public health emergency last October, and his latest budget poured billions into combating the epidemic. In a press call, CDC acting director Anne Schuchat said that it is important to encourage community members to learn about, and use, Naloxone, a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams added that, in addition to focusing on Naloxone, other priorities include destigmatizing opioid addiction, and working with healthcare professionals to help patients understand the benefits of opioid alternatives.