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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

American opioid overdoses up 30% in past year

Substantial increases in overdoses were seen nationwide by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A drug overdose rescue kit to help people suffering from overdoses of opioids. AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson
A drug overdose rescue kit to help people suffering from overdoses of opioids. AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson

The US opioid epidemic is accelerating, with hospital emergency room visits for overdoses from drugs like heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers up 30 per cent in 2017 from 2016, US officials said on Tuesday.

Substantial increases in overdoses were seen nationwide, said the report released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“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.

“This fast-moving epidemic affects both men and women, and people of every age. It does not respect state or county lines and is still increasing in every region in the United States.”

The report found that from July 2016 to September 2017, a total of 142,557 emergency room visits were due to suspected opioid overdoses.

Comparing the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017, researchers found a 29.7 per cent jump in emergency room visits due to opioids.

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

The largest increase was in the Midwest region (69.7 per cent), followed by the West (40.3 per cent).

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.

However, 63,632 people died of drug overdose deaths in 2016 in the United States, a 21.4 per cent increase from 2015, the CDC said.

Nearly two thirds of drug overdose deaths in 2016 involved prescription opioids, illicit opioids, or both, an increase of 27.7 per cent from 2015.

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