Colorado’s opioid epidemic explained in 10 graphics

By: Guest Author | Posted on: Nov 09, 2017

This article was originally published on by  View the original article by clicking here.

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Colorado’s opioid crisis is taking center stage at the state Capitol as policymakers look to curtail the drug abuse that is killing hundreds each year.

The state’s problem is not the worst in the nation — actually the state ranks in the middle of the pack — but significant gaps in prevention and treatment for drug addiction remain, according to experts. 

Here’s a look at the opioid and heroin epidemic in Colorado in 10 graphics.

The scope of the problem

Colorado ranked 32nd in the nation in 2015 for its rate of total drug-overdose deaths, according to the latest federal data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and opioids are the most significant reason.

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Here’s a look at who’s dying from opioid-related overdoses in Colorado, which includes prescription opioids and other drugs, such as heroin and fentanyl. The data shows the issue is widespread across demographics in Colorado.


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One of the biggest increase in opioid deaths is related to heroin. Here’s a look at the spike in heroin overdoses in Colorado over the past decade.

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The most heroin deaths per capita occur in the southeastern corner of Colorado, as well as the populated areas in metro Denver, according to a map in a major report prepared by the state’s Department of Human Services.

This is the age-adjusted opioid overdose death rate per 100,000 residents, 2013-2015

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The gaps in opioid abuse treatment

The four types of treatment and recovery services of opioid abuse are concentrated along Colorado’s Front Range — with some of the hardest-hit areas having few options. An analysis by the Keystone Policy Center shows the discrepancies in treatment options in the state.

This map from the state’s human services department shows access to detox, residential treatment, outpatient services and methadone clinics in 2016.


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