Report Sheds Light on Heroin Crisis in Colorado

Documented instances where emergency medical services personnel used Naloxone to treat suspected overdoses also rose from 997 events during 2011 to 3,393 events during 2016, while potentially related new cases of hepatitis C have increased 80 percent, the report says.

A new report from a Colorado multi-agency work group sheds light on the heroin problem in the state, offering a close look at use, overdoses, and treatment data. Called a "preliminary assessment," the Heroin Response Work Group's report shows heroin seizures rose 2,035 percent from 2011 to 2015, from 20 to 427 seizures, and fatal overdoses more than doubled from 79 in 2011 to 160 in 2016.

Arrests for heroin in Colorado also soared, from 743 during 2011 to 4,575 in 2016.

Documented instances where emergency medical services personnel used Naloxone to treat suspected overdoses also rose from 997 events during 2011 to 3,393 events during 2016, while potentially related new cases of hepatitis C have increased 80 percent, from 379 in 2011 to 729 in 2016, it says.

The Heroin Response Work Group includes representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Department of Human Services, the Colorado Attorney General's Office, and the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention.

"Law enforcement has seen significant increases in incidents of heroin seizures and arrests across the state," said Tom Gorman, director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and co-chair of the work group. "We must work to reverse this trend, not only for current heroin users and their families, but also prevent others from experiencing the tragic outcomes of addiction."

The report, titled "Heroin in Colorado," includes a survey of Colorado heroin users conducted at methadone clinics.

"Too many Colorado families have been hurt by the heroin epidemic," said Colorado Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne. "This first-ever report provides the sobering statistics and serves as our call to action to do all we can to help our citizens avoid its use and provide support to those on the front lines of battling its misuse."

"People are dying from opioid overdoses at an alarming rate across the country and here in Colorado," said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. "Every one of the people we lose to an overdose is somebody's loved one, and their addiction and subsequent death not only impacts them and their families, it affects our community as a whole. Colorado must be proactive in tackling this heroin crisis, and this report provides us with comprehensive data that can help us to focus our state's resources where they are most needed. My office will continue to work collaboratively with stakeholders to combat this growing issue."

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