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Colorado Opiate Deaths Outnumber Homicides in 2015

Updated 01 March 2017 Written by Deborah QuinnClinically Reviewed by Sarah Fletcher, LPC, LAC
New data from the Health Department found that in 2015, the number of deaths from just one type of opioid painkiller outnumbered all homicides in Colorado over the same period of time. They were only including deaths from that they call “natural” prescription opioids (non-synthetic), like hydrocodone (Percocet), and oxycodone (Oxycontin). In 2015, 205 people died from homicide, while 259 died from “natural” prescription opioid overdose.

If deaths from synthetic opioids are added to the tally, the number of overdoses rises to 329, and adding heroin brings the total to 472. This means the number is approaching that of deaths from alcoholic liver disease, which was 500. Deaths from opioid overdose also now far exceed deaths from cocaine overdose as well.

The parts of Colorado that have been hit the hardest are Pueblo County and southeastern Colorado.

According to Governor John Hickenlooper’s plan to reduce prescription drug abuse in Colorado, Colorado ranks second worst among states for prescription drug misuse. Young adults have the highest rates of misuse: 14% of Coloradans aged 18-25 misused prescription opioids in 2012. 

Worried About Someone You Love?


You can help prevent prescription drug abuse and opioid overdose. Here’s how:

Dispose of unused pain medication.

Keeping these meds around gives more opportunity for them to be stolen or abused

Get a Naloxone prescription.

Naloxone is a life-saving opioid agonist that works by attaching to the opioid receptors in the brain, essentially “kicking off” the opioids attached to the receptors. This can reverse respiratory arrest when administered quickly in case of an overdose. Anyone can get a prescription, and there are free trainings available. If you have a loved one who is using or has used opioids, having naloxone on hand could save their life.

Monitor your kids’ prescriptions.

Doctors sometimes prescribe opioids even to teens and young adults. If for some reason your child gets an opioid prescription, be sure to monitor it carefully, and perhaps store it yourself. It is not unusual for teens to sell these pills to each other.

Seek professional help.

If you have reason to suspect a loved one is misusing prescription opioids, reach out for professional help. Sandstone Care provides evaluations for opiate abuse, as well as a full continuum of affordable treatment options. Contact us today at (888) 850-1890.