Prescription Meds and Heroin Neck-and-Neck for Colorado Opioid Deaths December 6th, 2019 The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake
Blog & News Prescription Meds and Heroin Neck-and-Neck for Colorado Opioid Deaths

Prescription Meds and Heroin Neck-and-Neck for Colorado Opioid Deaths

Graph showing the rise of opioid related deaths in Colorado.

A study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) showed that in Colorado, there were 536 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2016. This number is equivalent to 9.5 deaths for every 100,000 people, which is an increase from 2015’s 8.7 deaths per 100,000 people, but still well below the national average of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 people.

Colorado has put several pieces of legislation in place to help stem the opioid overdose crisis, and the numbers of overdose deaths, while still high, slowed in their growth in 2016. Particular attention has been given to prescription drug abuse, with doctors slowing down their prescribing of opioids to try to prevent abuse and overdoses.

More emergency personnel are also carrying naloxone, which can reverse an overdose that might have been fatal and may have been another reason why the overdose rate has stopped growing as quickly as it has in the past. While naloxone may be able to reverse an overdose in the short term, however, some who were treated with naloxone still died because of the drug’s side effects and a lack of follow-up or medical care to address the side effects of the drug.

The Increase in Heroin Use

As a result, however, some who cannot get opioid prescriptions have turned to heroin, an even more dangerous and addictive drug that has resulted in HIV infections from sharing needles and is one of the hardest drug habits to break. While prescription opioid overdose rates have slowed somewhat in the last two years to 258 last year, heroin overdoses spiked to 238 in the same year.

Char showing the number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Colorado.

Chart from NIDA site shows overdose deaths from prescription opioids and heroin.

Along with decreasing availability of opioid prescriptions, the overdose rate for heroin may have also increased because of the use of drugs like fentanyl that are often mixed with the heroin and make it far more potent than expected. Fentanyl is so strong in a pure form that just a few grains too many may be enough cause an overdose.

Opioid abuse is far from a declining problem, as shown by the fact that overdose death rates are continuing to grow, even if they have slowed from previous alarming growth rates. Getting help before an overdose happens is an important step to handling an opioid addiction.

Helping a Loved One With Opioid Addiction

Loved ones can be aware of missing leftover medications, someone appearing to take more opioid medication than prescribed, going to different doctors for the same physical problems, and asking to use someone else’s opioid medications.

It is best to lovingly confront someone and let them know you want them to be safe and healthy and are worried about the risk of overdose, which often happens when opioids are abused in conjunction with other drugs or alcohol that intensify their effects or have dangerous interactions.

The Recovery Village at Palmer LakeĀ is a Colorado drug rehab that treats all types of opioid addiction, whether prescription opioids, heroin, or the new synthetic opioids. Contact us today to get help for addiction!

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.