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The vast majority of the fatal overdoses, about two-thirds, involve a legal or illegal opioid painkiller, or heroin.

CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, MD, said it's ED data-not prolonged death certificates-that can give regions better indication as to the growth and movement of the opioid epidemic.

This fast-moving epidemic affects all ages, genders and states and is still increasing across the US, she said. But those increases varied dramatically from state to state, even within a region. In 16 states hard-hit by the opioid epidemic, ER visits from overdoses rose 35 percent during that time.

According to CaroMont Health in Gastonia, the rate of emergency room visits for opioid-related issues in Gaston County is twice the state average.

The report found that urban centers saw a greater increase in overdose visits than rural areas, which have traditionally been seen as the hardest hit by the nation's opioid epidemic. Consistent with the program report, it indicates that the Midwest (70%) is the most burdened region.

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Continued rises in cities and towns of all types. She says states can use that information to identify where resources are needed. "However, there an increasing number of high quality studies that are demonstrating, for a number of conditions, injuries, and surgeries, a combination of ibuprofen or naproxen and acetaminophen is as effective or more effective than an opioid in reducing pain", Hull said.

Every demographic group experienced substantial rate increases, including men (30 percent) and women (24 percent) and people ages 25-34 (31 percent), 35-54 (36 percent), and 55 or older (32 percent). For public officials, the agency recommended increasing the distribution of naloxone, which reverses overdoses, and using prescription drug monitoring programs.

Roughly 2.4 million Americans have an opioid use disorder, according to federal estimates.

Support programs that reduce harms which can occur when injecting opioids, including those that offer screening for HIV and hepatitis B and C, in combination with referral to treatment. But CNN reports the increases in emergency room overdoses in the West and Southwest weren't expected and "might foreshadow death trends to come", as one overdose increases a person's chance of a second. "Data on opioid overdoses treated in emergency departments can inform timely, strategic, and coordinated response efforts in the community as well".


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