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The Opioid Epidemic Isn’t Easing Up – It’s Getting Worse

For a while now, public perception has been that the opioid epidemic is loosening its grip on the U.S., primarily due to a downward trend in opioid-related deaths. While fewer casualties is certainly promising news, addiction professionals have been cautioning the public that these statistics are because of the availability of the life-saving overdose-reversing drug Naloxone, rather than a reduction in harmful drug use.

The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) back this up. In just one-year, opioid overdoses rose nearly 30 percent. From July 2016 through September 2017, a total of 142,557 emergency room visits were reported in relation to overdoses. This indicates that not only is the crisis not easing up, it’s getting worse.

While some areas saw greater impact than others, rates rose for each demographic and geography analyzed – providing proof that this is still a nationwide issue.

"We saw, sadly, that in every region, in every age group of adults, in both men and women, overdoses from opioids are increasing," commented CDC director Anne Schuchat in an interview with NPR.

A key contributing factor to these numbers is the increased potency of today’s substances, compared to five years ago. Fentanyl, for example, is incredibly dangerous and many users may be unaware that they’re in contact with it. As a result, they use as much of the drug as they normally would, and quickly suffer an overdose, not knowing that they’ve taken fentanyl.

Spectrum Health Systems, the New England Recovery Center and our many partners within the Massachusetts community remain dedicated to lessening the effect of this tragic crisis on our state. Together, we must continue to increase access to evidence-based treatment, including medication-assisted treatment and the integration of mental health care, and eliminate the harmful stigma surrounding addiction. Join us in that fight!

If you or a loved one needs help, call us today at (800) 464-9555 for outpatient services or (800) 366-7732 for inpatient treatment.

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