Opioids – everything from prescription painkillers to heroin – are killing a record number of Coloradans, as well as Americans across the country. The drugs leave many other lives in tatters. The scale of the problem has prompted Colorado lawmakers to propose a set of bills they hope may lead to better prevention and treatment for those addicted.
Last year, about 900 people died of drug overdoses in Colorado, 64,000 across the nation. But the problem has been years in the making. A New York Times color-coded map dating back to 1999 tracks the spread of overdoses with the highest death rates in shades of red. Spots like Appalachia, the Southwest, southeast Colorado get redder and redder, meaning overdose deaths are more and more rampant.
“I don’t think you can overstate it. Pick a word, it’s as bad as you could get. More people dying every year than died in the entire Vietnam War. A 9-11 equivalent every two and a half weeks. The numbers are just mind boggling and they’re going up,” said Robert Valuck, who heads a Colorado consortium for drug abuse prevention.
Read the rest of the story at Colorado Public Radio.