Drug overdoses claimed 1,062 Colorado residents last year, new data shows

By: - July 30, 2020 1:38 pm

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

More Colorado residents died of drug overdoses in 2019 than in any other year over at least the previous two decades, according to new data released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

CDPHE recently updated its drug overdose data dashboard with numbers for 2019.

Last year, 1,062 people died from a drug overdose in Colorado, the data show, representing a 9% increase from 2018 and a 4.9% increase from 2017.

Of those, about half — 612 — were caused by prescription opioids or heroin. In that category, fatal overdoses increased 12% from 2018 and 9.2% from 2017.

The number of overdoses caused by methamphetamine also increased 9.1%, from 318 in 2018 to 347 in 2019.

Men accounted for a considerably higher number of deaths, 665, than did women, 397.

Despite comprising 4.6% of Colorado’s population, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, Black people accounted for 6.87% of drug overdose deaths in 2019. White, non-Hispanic people, who represent 67.7% of Coloradans, made up 66.2% of overdose deaths.

According to census estimates, 21.8% of Coloradans are Hispanic. People of Hispanic origin made up 19.8% of deaths in Colorado last year.

The average, age-adjusted overdose death rate for 2019 was 17.8 per 100,000 people across the state. Three counties in southern Colorado — Conejos, Las Animas and Otero — had rates above 50 deaths per 100,000.

In 2018, just Otero and Rio Grande counties in southern Colorado had rates above 50 per 100,000. The statewide average drug overdose rate that year was 16.5 deaths per 100,000 Coloradans.

Compared with those living along the Front Range, residents of rural Colorado lack access to substance use disorder treatment services, including medication-assisted treatment. Some legislation has addressed this disparity.

The Colorado Crisis Services hotline can be useful for those feeling depressed or suicidal, but the state’s Office of Behavioral Health also encourages people who need help dealing with a substance use disorder to call or text the hotline to speak with trained professionals. Dial 1-855-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255 for free, confidential support and guidance.

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Faith Miller
Faith Miller

Faith Miller was a reporter with Colorado Newsline covering the Colorado Legislature, immigration and other stories.