Number of opioid overdoses skyrocket across the nation

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say Kentucky saw 15 percent fewer ER visits previous year for overdoses.

Pennsylvania saw an 81 percent increase in hospital emergency department cases involving opioid overdoses in the 12 months leading up to last September.

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.

That's not to say they're the sole region affected by the opioid epidemic.

Director of the CDC Anne Schuchat reveals that she and her team "saw, sadly, that in every region, in every age group of adults, in both men and women, overdoses from opioids are increasing".

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.

Increase availability of and access to treatment services, including mental health services and medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Timely treatment with naloxone can reverse the effects of opioids. In Kentucky, which has been hit especially hard by the opioid abuse epidemic, the rate dropped 15 percent, which could reflect fluctuations in drug supply, Schuchat said.

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"Up until now, we have been reporting on the tragic loss of life from overdoses, but for every fatal case, there are many more nonfatal cases, each one with its own emotional and economic toll", Schuchat said during a telebriefing on the report.

"Research shows that people who have had an 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.

The report did not go into whether opioid deaths also rose during the same period studied, since death certificate data can take longer to gather.

"The science is clear - addiction is a chronic disease and not a moral failing", he said. That would involve training hospital physicians to administer the first dose of medications that reduce patients' opioid withdrawal symptoms so that they aren't sent out into the city without any defense against the itch for their next fix.

Alert communities to rapid increases in overdoses seen in EDs and coordinate an informed and timely response.

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