NC Leads the Southeast in Overdose Increase

New data from the CDC shows that overdoses in North Carolina have been surging over the last year, with ER visits up more than 30%.

As reported by the Charlotte Observer, suspected opioid overdoses treated at North Carolina emergency rooms have increased at a rate more than double that of the Southeast as a whole in recent months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Those visits rose 31 percent between the third quarter of 2016 and the same quarter of 2017, the report says. That compares to a regional increase of 14 percent. North Carolina was identified as one of 10 states with significant increases during that period.

While a 2016 federal study suggested that the nation’s opioid use might be stabilizing, the CDC report shows a substantial increase. North Carolina ER visits for overdoses rose sharply in the second and third quarters of 2017 compared to the two previous quarters.

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“The increases occurred in most demographic groups and U.S. regions and suggest a worsening of the epidemic into late 2017 in several states, possibly related to the wide variation in the availability and potency of illicit drug products (e.g., fentanyl sold as or mixed into heroin) that increase overdose risk and drive increases in mortality,” the report said.

In response to the epidemic, some North Carolina counties — including Mecklenburg — have joined a federal lawsuit against the producers and distributors of opioids. One third of the state’s 100 counties had more opioid prescriptions than people in 2016, the state health department has reported.

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To learn more about how North Carolina is seeing a surge in opioid-related overdoses, please visit the Charlotte Observer.

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