Published: Thu, March 08, 2018
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CDC: Opioid overdoses kill nearly 5 people every hour in the US

CDC: Opioid overdoses kill nearly 5 people every hour in the US

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.

The "gold standard" to treat opioid addiction is medication-assisted treatment - such as Suboxone or methadone - combined with counseling.

He and other public health leaders hope the new numbers will spur more money and more action to fix the nation's opioid crisis.

In 2017, ME saw 418 drug-related overdoses. Acting CDC director Dr. Anne Schuchat said emergency room visit data is useful because it shows when and where people are overdosing.

There is little sign that the opioid epidemic is slowing down, and emergency rooms across the country are bracing for another night of frantic lifesaving efforts to keep the victims alive. The Midwest saw the most dramatic increase - about 70 percent. The largest increase - 109 percent - was in Wisconsin. The next most afflicted region is the West (40%), followed by the Northeast (21%), Southwest (20%) and Southeast (14%).

According to the CDC report released Tuesday, ER visits for opioid overdose increased more in urban areas than they did in rural areas, a trend that may signal an increase in illicit street drugs as opposed to prescription painkillers.

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.

Gov. Tom Wolf in January declared a statewide 90-day emergency due to the opioid overdose crisis.

Schuchat further admits that "we think that the number of people addicted to opioids is relatively stable. But on top of that, the heroin and other illicit drug supply has gotten even more risky than it used to be", said Schuchat. "The margin of error for taking one of these substances is small now and people may not know what they have".

Jennifer Miller, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health Services, said many suspected opioid overdoses in ERs don't become confirmed cases. Opioid researcher Andrew Kolodny agrees on that point, telling NPR there's "a recognition that we need to do something about this problem".

Although the Trump administration recently declared the epidemic to be an emergency, a significant increase in funding is urgently needed to treat Americans addicted to opioids.

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