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Emergency rooms in the U.S. saw an upswing in opioid overdoses a year ago in a trend that continues to rise as the nation battles the epidemic, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That survey showed an increase of 29.7 percent in 52 jurisdictions in 45 states between July through September 2016 and the same period in 2017, according to the report. The exact number was not released.

Miller attributed the decline in opioid deaths "to increased awareness about the opioid crisis, as well as an increase in the use of naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses".

The largest regional increase occurred in the Midwest, which saw a 69.7 percent jump in opioid overdoses, according to the report.

"We're now seeing the highest drug overdose death rates ever recorded in the United States, driven by prescription opioids and by illicit opioids such as heroin and illicitly-manufactured fentanyl,"Anne Schuchat, MD, acting director of the CDC, said during a telebriefing on the report".

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The fact that the report was only able to capture people who were hospitalized suggests that the grim toll may be much higher, because many people who overdose never go to the ER.

Based on the report, some emergency departments could enhance prevention and treatment and improve efforts to connect patients with resources to help prevent future overdoses. Acting CDC director Dr. Anne Schuchat said emergency room visit data is useful because it shows when and where people are overdosing.

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

But Smith, at the medical association, said that while Portland may have more access to Narcan, that may not be the case in more rural parts of Maine. He said the expansion of Narcan use - an opioid overdose antidote - in the greater Portland area has probably led to decreased numbers of overdoses ending up in emergency rooms. "We are building the capacity for prevention and treatment to try to keep people out of the EDs", Harris said. "Another innovative approach is the idea of navigators".

"American physicians, and the public, have come to believe that opioids should be the first line medication for moderate to severe pain".