Drug overdose deaths in Colorado have fallen for the primary time in six years, however consultants warning that it doesn’t imply the overdose epidemic is winding down.
In 2018, 974 folks died of a drug overdose in Colorado, down from the state’s file of 1,012 deaths in 2017, in response to knowledge from the Colorado Division of Public Well being and Setting. It’s the first 12 months overdose deaths have decreased since 2012.
Consultants hope it’s an indication that Colorado has hit its peak of a drug epidemic, however they warn that one 12 months of knowledge will not be sufficient to declare victory.
“It’s exhausting to know if it’s a blip or a development, however we’re hoping it’s flattening out and that it’ll begin to come down,” stated Robert Valuck, govt director of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention.
The lower is essentially a as a result of a drop in prescription opioid overdoses. However deaths from methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl proceed to rise.
Whereas the dying toll improved statewide, that wasn’t the case in Denver. The county recorded 172 overdose deaths in 2018, 14 greater than 2017, in response to the report. The seven-county Denver metro space accounted for 572 of 2018’s overdose deaths.
Denver’s excessive variety of overdose deaths is essentially as a result of its vital inhabitants however per capita overdose deaths are comparable in Pueblo and San Luis, the place the full numbers are smaller however the influence is simply as painful, Valuck stated.
Jalyn Ingalls, a coverage analyst on the Colorado Well being Institute, stated that Colorado has launched plenty of insurance policies which have helped scale back opioid deaths. These insurance policies embody growing the accessibility of naloxone, increasing entry to medically assisted therapy and making a prescription drug monitoring program. Nonetheless, “nobody has discovered a silver bullet coverage” in terms of addressing the epidemic, she stated.
The growing charge of fentanyl overdoses is a trigger for concern, Ingalls stated. The variety of deaths blamed on the artificial opioid greater than doubled in three years, reaching 102 deaths in 2018.
The Facilities for Illness Management has categorized the opioid epidemic into three waves of medicine: prescription opioids, then heroin and lastly artificial opioids, particularly illegally-manufactured fentanyl. The third wave could also be spreading into Colorado, Ingalls stated.
“I’m anxious that we’ll proceed to see an overdose epidemic,” she stated.
Kirk Bol, supervisor of the state well being division’s very important statistics program, stated that from what the division has heard, a lot of the fentanyl coming into Colorado is illegally produced and distributed.
The state additionally is anxious a couple of development of individuals overdosing on a mix of medicine. That’s partly as a result of road medication are being mixed with different components.
“People could not know what it’s they’re buying, which makes them notably harmful medication to make use of,” he stated.