CDC numbers show spike in ED visits for opioid overdose

Opioid overdoses rose 30% nationwide from July 2016 through September 2017, according to the CDC's latest survey of emergency departments. (

New CDC data shows a spike in ED visits related to opioid overdoses, a trend that's happening across genders, regions and age groups.

According to the CDC’s latest Vital Signs report, opioid overdoses rose 30% nationally from July 2016 through September 2017. The highest increases occurred in the Midwest, which saw a 70% increase over the same period, including spikes of 109% in Wisconsin and 66% in Illinois.

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A recent decline in overdose deaths across 14 states had provided a glimmer of hope that the country might finally be reaching an inflection point in the ongoing opioid epidemic. The CDC data, along with recent reports of a troubling rise in hospital admissions for opioid ingestion by pediatric patients, suggest recent efforts by providers, as well as state and federal policymakers, have so far been insufficient to stem the tide.

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CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, M.D., urged providers and policymakers to read the new data as a valuable early warning. “Long before we receive data from death certificates, emergency department data can point to alarming increases in opioid overdoses,” she said in a statement.

While she emphasized the breadth of the problem and the fact that overdose increases rose across the board, the data do demonstrate regional variations, especially in the Northeast and Southeast. Variation across states in those regions ranged from an increase of 105% in Delaware to a decrease of 15% in Kentucky. Major metropolitan areas also generally showed a higher rate increase than surrounding cities and towns.

In its statement, the CDC called for improved coordination across states and counties, as well as better coordination between public health and public safety agencies as they work to reduce overdoses. The new findings also demonstrate a need for improved access to opioid addiction treatment, particularly medication-assisted treatment, according to the agency.