Why Are Opiate Prescription Overdoses Still Rising? The Statistics Are Telling The Story

The Emergency Room Statistics Tell The Story

 Why Is The Midwest USA Still Seeing Opioid OD’s Rise Every Year? 

By Mark York (March 9, 2018) 










(MASS TORT NEXUS MEDIA) According to sources at all levels from police and fire first responders to emergency room physicians across the country and analysts at the CDC, there’s been no slowdown in opiate based medical emergencies in the US over the last 2 years. Emergency response and ER visits for opioid overdoses went way up, with a 30 percent increase in the single year period of June of 2016 to June of 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The increased emergency room visits also include more young children aged three to fourteen years old, which truly reflects on the unknown number still available opiates that are readily accessible to anyone who has an interest in getting them, and often with an inadvertent and tragic risk to younger victims who somehow are exposed and now being swept up in the opioid crisis.  

Center for Disease Control’s Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said overall the most dramatic increases were in the Midwest, where emergency visits went up 70 percent in all ages over 25. This is a figure that’s is comparative to prior medical emergency spikes during pandemic healthcare  


ER visits for opioid-related emergencies more than doubled in two states. Wisconsin saw the biggest increase, 109 percent and Delaware saw a 105 percent increase. In Pennsylvania, ER visits were up 81 percent. 

“We’re seeing the highest ever death rates in the US,” Schuchat said. She pointed to national statistics that out of 63,000 overdose deaths in 2016, 42,000 of them involved opioids. 

“[This] means 115 people die each day from opioid overdose,” she said. This number has been at are above 100 for most of the last 3 years, with no end in sight and with so many different regions affected it may require more grassroots focus and demands made to elected officials to move faster on a long term solution.  

There were some decreases reported in the East, with the largest being a 15 percent reduction in Kentucky, which could reflect fluctuation in drug supplies or interventions. 

However, hospital visits in cities of all types increased steadily in each quarter by 51 percent. Schuchat emphasized, “Bottom line — no area of the US is exempt from this epidemic.” Looking closer at causation and access to opiates across the country is required. How are unlimited numbers of federally controlled substances still so readily accessible to so many?   

US Surgeon General James Adams was also present during the briefing and mentioned how he witnessed first-hand his own young brother’s struggle with opioid addiction. 

“Science is clear: Addiction is a chronic disease and not a moral failing,” the doctor said. Adams outlined that a coordinated effort is necessary to prevent opioid addiction. “To successfully combat this epidemic, everyone must play a role,” he noted. 

The Surgeon General explained how health departments, along with public safety and law enforcement officials, have to work together to deal with local opioid-related emergencies. 

He stressed the need to make naloxone, a life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose, more accessible in emergency situations. 


Opioid poisonings and overdoses are sending increasing numbers of U.S. children and teens to the hospital, according to additional studies showing a substantial rise in young patients needing critical care. The study included accidental poisonings along with overdoses from intentional use. Prescription painkillers were most commonly involved, but heroin, methadone and other opioid drugs also were used. 

Hospitalizations were most common among kids aged 12-17 and those aged 1 to 5. The youngest kids typically found parents’ medications or illicit drugs and used them out of curiosity, said Dr. Jason Kane, the lead author and an associate pediatrics professor at the University of Chicago and Comer Children’s Hospital. 

Reasons for the increases are unclear but it could be that drugs became more widely available and potent during the study years, Kane said. Finding a solution is something that is often discussed yet there seems to be limited ability to slow or control access to opiates.  

“Opioids can depress your drive to breathe,” Kane said, and they also may cause blood pressure to plummet to dangerously low levels. Treatment for these symptoms includes ventilators and powerful drugs that constrict blood vessels. Naloxone, the “rescue’ drug used that can revive overdose patients who’ve stopped breathing, was used in nearly one-third of cases during the 2004-15 study. 

The study was published March 2018 American Association of Pediatrics, see Pediatrics Journal study results. The study involved 31 children’s hospitals, or about 20 percent of U.S. children’s hospitals. Opioid-related stays increased from almost 800 to 1,500 during the study. The results echo research published last year that found the annual rate of hospitalizations for opioid poisonings in kids nearly doubled from 1997-2012 

The new study found a similar increase in patients requiring intensive treatment, rising from 367 to 643 in the final years.A small fraction of the nearly 4.2 million hospitalizations of children during the study involved opioids, but 43 percent of these opioid-related stays required intensive treatment. Annual deaths dropped from almost 3 percent to just over 1 percent of kids hospitalized for opioid reactions. 

The number of children admitted to peditriac hospital intensive care units for opioid poisoning nearly doubled over a decade, according to a new study. 

“Current efforts to reduce prescription opioid use in adults have not curtailed the incidence of pediatric opioid ingestion, and additional efforts are needed to reduce preventable opioid exposure in children,” authors wrote in the study “Opioid-Related Critical Care Resource Utilization in U.S. Children’s Hospitals” (Kane JM, et al. Pediatrics. March 5, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2017-3335). 

Researchers analyzed 2004-’15 data from the Pediatric Health Information System and found 3,647 opioid-related hospitalizations across 31 children’s hospitals. They rose from 797 in 2004-’07 to 1,504 in 2012-’15 and were highest among children ages 12-17 (61%) followed by ages 1-5 (34.2%) and ages 6-11 (4.8%). With nearly 20% of children in the youngest age group were admitted for methadone ingestion, which tends to show that the drug access is often affiliated with a person undergoing opioid addiction treatment 


“These kids are really the secondary victims of this adult opioid epidemic,” Kane said. He said the results emphasize how crucial it is to store medications and other drugs locked, hidden and out of children’s reach. 

The Pediatrics Journal editorial notes that several treatment programs for drugs including opioids have been shown to reduce teen and young adult use. The new findings highlight the need for pediatricians to get involved “to combat the ongoing opioid crisis in our country,” the editorial said. Perhaps speaking to and letting young children know the dangers of opiates at an early age would be advisable, just as the “drunk driving” campaigns has been ingrained into our society from a young age, resulting in a net reduction in drunk driving fatalities.   

Treating the opioid crisis and abuse of prescription opiates as a disease or referring to it as a formally recognized medical condition requiring medical professional intervention as an inclusive part of the solution will be a mandatory part of any long term viable solution to the opiate crisis.     

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