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Overdose fatalities continue to reach new record highs in Colorado

Posted at 9:22 PM, Apr 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-29 19:24:16-04

According to a recent report from the Colorado Health Institute (CHI), “Drugs are killing more Coloradans than ever.”

According to CHI, the level of drug overdose related deaths in Colorado are increasing each year. With 345 deaths from overdoses in 1999, and 912 overdose deaths reported in 2016. Early numbers for 2017 have the trend continuing, with 959 drug overdose deaths reported.

The report also indicates that opioids are a major driver in Colorado’s increase in overdose deaths. In 2016, 504 overdose deaths were connected to opioids while only 408 deaths were connected to non-opioid drugs.

Of course, there were some counties that were hit harder than others.

While the rate of deaths per capita is low in El Paso County compared to other areas, it did suffer the highest number of fatalities statewide from the epidemic.

In 2001 the county recorded 60 deaths related to drug overdoses. However, in 2016 that number more than doubled to 141 deaths; a number that tops even Denver County’s 138 fatalities.

While overdoses resulting in death continue to rise, it seems prescription opioid overdosing has plateaued. In 2016, 300 died of prescription overdoses; down from 338 in 2014.

However, many may just be turning to heroin, which has become cheaper and more available. In 2016, 228 died of heroin overdoses; up from 2015 when 160 died.

State lawmakers proposed bills to target the problem, looking at five bills introduced in the 2018 legislative session.

  • Expand Access Behavioral Health Care Providers – SB18-024
  • Clinical Practice For Opioid Prescribing – SB18-022
  • Opioid Misuse Prevention – HB18-1003
  • Substance Use Disorder Payment And Coverage – HB18-1007
  • Substance Use Disorder Treatment – HB18-1136

(Graphs courtesy of Colorado Health Institute)