Report shows steep rise in opioid-related ER visits in Maine

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IL is one of the hardest hit states, with a almost 66 percent increase in suspected opioid overdose visits to the emergency room a year ago.

In the Midwest alone, hospital visits for opioid overdoses rose 70 percent during that time, according to the March CDC report.

The overall increase in opioid overdoses seen in hospital emergency rooms between the third quarter of 2016 and the third quarter of 2017 occurred across the nation.

Emergency department visits for suspected opioid overdoses increased by 34 percent in ME from 2016 to 2017, during a time when drug overdose deaths in the state reached an all-time high.

"Long before we receive data from death certificates, emergency department data can point to alarming increases in opioid overdoses", said CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, M.D.

The opioid epidemic reached new heights, with opioid overdoses in the ED jumping to 30%.

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

The latest data could underestimate the overdoses, because many people who overdose never end up in the emergency room. This includes naloxone for first responders, and mental health programs and medication for patients with opioid use disorder.

Based on the report, some emergency departments could enhance prevention and treatment and improve efforts to connect patients with resources to help prevent future overdoses. It is typical to see overdose increases at the start of the month, when many people get their paychecks, but the spikes could also be due to growing fentanyl use, he said. Kentucky, meanwhile, reported a statistically significant decrease (15%).

The supply of those more risky drugs is increasing faster in some parts of the country than in others, which may help explain the geographic variations, Schuchat says. "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. "We know that prescribing patterns for opioids have been high in some rural areas", Schuchat said. Opioid overdoses in large central metropolitan areas increased by 54%.

"The science is clear - addiction is a chronic disease and not a moral failing", he said.

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