MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The latest snapshot of the opioid epidemic shows things are actually getting worse despite the growing national attention.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the number of overdoses is higher than ever.
The number of overdoses attributed to opioid abuse is on a staggering up-tick.
In fact, the CDC says, in a 15 month period there were well over 140 thousand suspected overdoses – a 30-percent increase.
The Midwest is getting hit the hardest with a jump of 70 percent.
Doctors across the country say they’re just trying to keep up.
“I often don’t know if it’s heroin, methadone or fentanyl they’ve overdosed on. We’re just working to save that person’s life in the moment,” said Dr. Peter Shearer with Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.
The CDC report says it’s not that more people are abusing drugs, it’s the kinds of drugs they are using. The crisis has seen users jump from painkillers to heroin to fentanyl – a drug 50 times more potent than morphine.
“The error margin is tiny. Taking a dose that another day might make you sleepy, can be enough to kill you,” said Acting Director of the CDC Anne Schuchat.
Dr. Aileen Marty, a professor of medicine at Florida International University, discussed the recent report with her students which says large cities saw a 54 percent jump in overdoses.
Dr. Marty says South Florida is one of worst areas hit.
“There has been too much prescribing of these drugs. There has been too much interest in jumping into the use of these drugs when something maybe less addictive can be used, and also there is, of course, the black market,” said Dr. Marty.
In 2017 the Trump administration declared the opioid problem a Public Health Emergency, but some, like Dr. Marty, believe the best way to attack the issue is at a local level.
“Even though the facilities exist and help is out there, more has to be done at the community level – one on one. Families need to start talking about this and helping each other,” said Dr. Marty.
The CDC agrees with statements like that. Each overdose can be an opportunity to steer someone out of addiction and into treatment.