More Coloradans died last year from drug overdoses than any year in the state’s history
Increases seen in deaths from other drugs, including methamphetamine and cocaine show how the opioid epidemic is changing
April 5, 2018
Colorado drug deaths almost certainly were the worst in the state's history last year, as the opioid epidemic morphed into a broader overdose crisis.
Deaths from methamphetamine exploded. What had been seen as a hopeful downturn in deaths from opioid painkillers reversed. Deaths from heroin and cocaine remained well above where they were just two years ago.
All together, drug overdoses probably killed more people last year than car crashes, according to preliminary numbers. And those numbers are more likely to increase than decrease as the state collects the remaining figures and finalizes the data in the coming weeks.
"Yes, it's getting worse, and it continues to grow," said Rob Valuck, the director of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Prevention. "It's a long problem. I'm of the mind that it's going to be anywhere from five to 10 years until we see this thing turn."
The reason for that: Even as the state moves aggressively to crack down on the proliferation of opioids, the overdose epidemic is changing in ways that are harder for policy-makers to target, according to the latest data and a new report from the Colorado Health Institute.
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