Emergency department visit rates because of an opioid overdose increased by 28.5 percent across the U.S. in 2020, compared to 2018 and 2019, recent Mayo Clinic research finds.

Emergency visits overall decreased by 14 percent last year, but visits because of an opioid overdose increased by 10.5 percent.

This trend is supported by preliminary data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recorded more than 93,000 opioid overdose deaths in 2020. That's a 29.4 percent increase from the year prior and the most opioid overdose deaths ever recorded in the U.S.

The research was published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine and was presented in June at the AcademyHealth annual research meeting. The research also was presented at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine's conference, where it was selected for a plenary session.

More than 70% of drug overdose deaths in 2019 involved an opioid, according to the CDC, although trends were leveling off before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, that trend has reversed significantly, data are showing.

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Researchers also say evidence suggests the percentage of people who overdose, but choose not to visit the emergency department is likely increasing, suggesting overdose rates maybe even higher.