No End In Sight: Opioid Overdoses Continue To Dramatically Climb

By Beth Leipholtz 03/08/18

“We’re currently seeing the highest overdose death rates ever recorded in the United States," said the CDC's acting director. 

Medics carrying hospital gurney to emergency room

The opioid epidemic has dominated headlines in recent years—and it’s only getting worse.  

According to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioid overdoses in the U.S. rose by about 30% in just 14 months, between July 2016 and September 2017. 

According to The Guardian, the CDC reported 142,000 overdoses in emergency departments across the country in that time period and called the data a “wake up call to the fast-moving opioid overdose epidemic.” While not all reported overdoses resulted in death, a significant portion did.

In 2016, the Guardian says prescription drug overdoses were responsible for 64,000 deaths. 

“Our results through September 2017 show opioid overdoses are increasing across all regions, most states for most men and women and most age groups,” Anne Schuchat, acting director of the CDC, told the Guardian. “We’re currently seeing the highest overdose death rates ever recorded in the United States.” 

The CDC's Vital Signs study examined two sets of data, according to the Guardian.  

The first data set, the Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance (ESOOS) program, examines the emergency room data of 16 U.S. states. Of those, eight states saw a substantial increase in overdoses of at least 25%. Two states—Wisconsin and Delaware—had overdose rates that more than doubled. In Pennsylvania, overdose rates rose 81%. 

The report also claims that overdose rates increased in “cities and towns of all types.” The Guardian states that although overdoses tend to be associated with rural areas, metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people saw the biggest increase at 54%.

The second data set used by the CDC was the National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP), which analyzes 60% of emergency departments in 45 states. The program looks at regional changes. Of this data, researchers say overdose rates increased about 30% in all regions and most states. 

According to the report, there are various steps communities should take to curb the issue. For example, they can take actions such as obtaining more naloxone (an opioid reversal medication), improving access to mental health services and medication-assisted treatments (MAT), implementing harm reduction programs and having physicians use prescription monitoring systems.  

The CDC’s report was published about a week after the White House’s two-week long opioid summit.

Last October, prior to signing a memorandum to combat the opioid crisis, President Trump stated that the government had reportedly given away "nearly $1 billion in grants for addiction prevention and treatment."

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.