The overdose death rate in Colorado and around the U.S. has been rising for the last few years, causing great concern among many leaders and treatment professionals, as well as the general public.
The rate in 2014 was 68 percent higher than it was in 2002, at 16.3 per 100,000 residents. The national average is 14.7 per 100,000. The rate has increased in all Colorado counties but one, and in 12 counties, the rate is more than 20 overdoses per 100,000 residents, which makes them some of the highest rates in the country, according to the Colorado Health Institute.
Factors Contributing to the Trend
Overdose increases happened in both rural and urban counties, meaning that overdose deaths are not confined to particular ages, races, or income levels. The majority of overdoses are from heroin and prescription drugs.
One factor is that more people are using heroin—nationally, self-reported use nearly doubled from 2007 to 2012. Some of these users may have started out as prescription painkiller users who got cut off by their medical professionals or needed to use more to maintain the addiction.
Another factor in the recent explosion of overdose deaths is the trend of cutting heroin and other street drugs with synthetic drugs that are much more potent than users expect. It becomes far easier to overdose when the potency suddenly changes overnight, and users do not even know that it has happened.
In recent years, it has become far more dangerous to abuse illegal substances because of the dangerous trend of mixing highly potent synthetic drugs with normal strength drugs. Still, desperate users who think they need their next fix are willing to take their chances, often with deadly results.
Although marijuana is now legal for medical and recreational use in Colorado, it is not strong enough by itself to result in many overdoses. Synthetic marijuana, known as K2, is more likely to result in side effects and has caused some overdoses in recent years.
Finding a Way Out Before Overdose Occurs
It is important to get treatment for a heroin or opioid addiction before it becomes deadly. Some emergency responders are beginning to carry naloxone, which can stop an otherwise fatal overdose, but its use is far from universal, and some of the most potent synthetic opiates now being cut into heroin will overwhelm even attempts to treat an overdose with naloxone.
Many addicts are resistant to seeking treatment, thinking they will not be one of the growing number of addicts that overdose on their drug of choice, but sharing stories about addicts who have overdosed may be a way to convince them that they could be next on the list.
The only way to protect against an overdose is to seek treatment and stop using the substance completely. Recovery Village at Palmer Lake offers a variety of treatment programs that can save the lives of addicts and prevent them from becoming just another overdose statistic. Learn about admissions and how we can help you or your loved one battle addiction and win.