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Tackling the opioid epidemic in Colorado

Colorado's opioid epidemic has recently taken focus at the state capitol, as officials express the need to limit the drug abuse that is killing hundreds each year. More than 63,000 people have died from drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2017. Opioids were involved in 75 percent of those deaths. This statistic hits close to home in Colorado as the number of opioid overdoses continues to rise.

The Denver Post addressed the change seen in the opioid epidemic last year. With drug deaths being the worst in the state's history, the opioid epidemic is transforming into a broader overdose crisis. Although the state's problem ranks in the middle of the pack, experts say that there are significant gaps in prevention and treatment for drug addiction in Colorado. Most likely killing more people all together than car crashes, overdoses including death from methamphetamine rose drastically. Heroin and cocaine overdoses were also well above where they were a couple years ago.

Decreasing the life expectancy

The unfortunate reality is that as the epidemic grows, life expectancy drops. This has sadly been the case over the past two years. The misuse of prescription painkillers is said to be the major cause of the growing crisis. After a month of abusing opioids, users no longer get a "high," taking more and more to just feel normal. Many have reported that they started on painkillers.

The number of heroin-related deaths in Colorado tripled from 2011 to 2016. This is not going unnoticed by law enforcement and health agencies. A multiple agency effort is in development as an approach to combat the so-called plague of opioid-related addiction in the state. Though the epidemic is a scary reality, we cannot lose hope that lives can be saved. Treatment providers, policymakers and others are aiming to make a difference.

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