Last year, Pennsylvania saw a huge spike in opioid overdose-related emergency room visits. The increase — up 81 percent from 2016 — measured as the third largest in the U.S.

The info comes from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which Tuesday afternoon released data gathered from July 2016 to September 2017. The CDC report covers 16 states that received Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance funding, grants meant to increase the timeliness of opioid overdose reporting and provide more comprehensive data on the risk factors associated.

All together, emergency visits for suspected opioid overdoses increased by 35 percent across the 16 states surveyed.

  • Pennsylvania’s 81 percent increase was third largest, after Wisconsin (up 109 percent) and Delaware (up 105 percent)
  • Across all included cities with populations of one million or more, ER visits jumped 54 percent, which was higher than other municipalities
  • Nationally, nearly every demographic group saw increases in overdose rates, including both men and woman and people ages 25 to 55 and older

Worth noting: not all states in the study saw increases. Kentucky’s emergency opioid overdose visits decreased by 15 percent, and Rhode Island and New Hampshire both saw decreases of 10 percent or less.

In the face of the glaring data for Pennsylvania and similarly embattled states, the CDC provided some recommendations for how to coordinate responses to opioid overdoses. The department recommends that local health departments:

  • Increase naloxone distribution
  • Increase availability of treatment (including mental health services and medication-assisted treatment)
  • Support programs that reduce harm and refer people to treatment (in Philly, that could include Prevention Point and the potential CUES)
  • Let communities know about the rapid increases in overdoses
  • Follow the CDC’s guidelines for prescribing opioids

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...