@CDCMMWR article shows the #opioid epidemic is only getting worse

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

At the beginning of this month, David Greene interviewed Surgeon General Jerome Adams on NPR's Morning Edition about the opioid summit that was to be held later that day. It is always interesting to me to listen to serious public health officials do what I imagine to be a slightly painful dance in public interviews - communicate important messages while staying within partisan lines and painting the current administration with sunshine-and-daisy brush strokes. (Current CDC director Anne Schuchat is masterful at this.) I can only imagine what that was like for Dr. Adams, although he got plenty of experience managing Indiana's HIV outbreak under Pence while the latter was governing Indiana, including (by some miracle) persuading him to allow syringe exchange programs to operate. At any rate, during the interview, he pointed out something which even I did not realize. It turns out that America does not take our opioid problem seriously:
No. 1 we want America to understand this is a problem. And I'm an avid NPR listener, so I can speak from that point of view and tell you that a lot of your listeners may not believe that America doesn't see this as a problem. But the majority of the public does not see the opioid epidemic as rising to the level of an emergency. So it's important that we continue to say at the highest levels this is a problem in all communities, and it's getting worse.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but every once in a while I forget that I live in an epi bubble. But in case anyone was wondering, last week's MMWR confirms that the opioid epidemic is getting worse:
From July 2016 through September 2017, a total of 142,557 ED visits (15.7 per 10,000 visits) from 52 jurisdictions in 45 states were suspected opioid-involved overdoses. This rate increased on average by 5.6% per quarter. Rates increased across demographic groups and all five U.S. regions, with largest increases in the Southwest, Midwest, and West (approximately 7%–11% per quarter). In 16 states, 119,198 ED visits (26.7 per 10,000 visits) were suspected opioid-involved overdoses. Ten states (Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) experienced significant quarterly rate increases from third quarter 2016 to third quarter 2017, and in one state (Kentucky), rates decreased significantly. The highest rate increases occurred in large central metropolitan areas.

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