A New Study Shows ER Visits for Overdoses Are Skyrocketing

They jumped nearly 30 percent last year

FangXiaNuo/iStock

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More dismal news from the front lines of the opioid epidemic: Emergency room visits for opioid overdoses climbed by nearly 30 percent between July of 2016 and September 2017, according to a report published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 143,000 Americans were brought to the ER for opioid overdoses during the 15-month period.

Unlike annual overdose deaths, which take more than a year to tally up, data on ER visits comes in real time, giving a more accurate portrait of the ongoing epidemic. The data also capture the tens of thousands of nonfatal overdoses. “For every fatal case, there are many more nonfatal cases, each one with its own personal and economic toll,” said Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s acting director. Because research shows that having one overdose is a good predictor of having another, the data presents an opportunity for targeting prevention efforts—like giving overdose reversal drug naloxone to family members and guiding the overdose victim to treatment—say CDC researchers in an accompanying commentary.  

While overdoses increased across the country, some regions were hit harder than others. The Midwest saw a whopping 70 percent increase in opioid-related ER visits related to opioid overdoses. In Wisconsin and Delaware, the rate of visits more than doubled. In 16 states with particularly high overdose rates, shown in the CDC graphic below, the ER visit rate jumped by an average of 34.5 percent.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The report also confirms that what started as a problem predominantly in suburban and rural areas has become increasingly urban: Large, metropolitan areas saw a 54 percent jump in ER visits, likely because of the influx of synthetic opioids like fentanyl into heroin and other drugs.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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