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Opioid Overdose Fatality Rate Spikes in Colorado

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Opioid overdose deaths, both accidental and suicides, account for 1.3 percent of all deaths in Colorado, but they are on the rise.

The Denver Post reports that in 2015, 472 people died from prescription opioids or heroin – up from 275 only five years earlier. Two years ago, opioid deaths nearly surpassed motor-vehicle fatalities, before those took a sudden surge. Opioid abuse is especially prevalent in Pueblo County and southeastern Colorado. A November report by the Colorado Department of Public Health says fatal overdoses from all drugs – including meth, sedatives, and other prescription or illicit substances – rose from 351 in 2000 to 880 in 2015. The rate of deaths per 100,000 population also doubled in that time. The report says in nearly every year, Colorado’s drug-overdose rate was significantly higher than the national rate.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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