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  • Writer's pictureMario Nicolais

Some sun in the dark clouds of the opioid epidemic

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

Colorado lost 578 people to opioid overdoses in 2017 according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Five hundred and seventy-eight friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers.

And that is just the surface of the opioid epidemic we hear about so often but have so much difficulty combating.

Those 578 people translated to a rate of 10.0 people per 100,000, the standard measurement value for healthcare research. Better than the national average (14.6) or neighboring states Utah (15.5) and New Mexico (16.7), Colorado falls toward the low end of the spectrum that tops out in West Virginia at 49.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

But losing less lives is an awful way to measure relative “success.” It also misses the myriad, daily devastating consequences to people suffering from opioid addiction — both the users and their loved ones — and fails to do much to help us develop a plan to address the underlying problems.

Systematic faults in our country’s delivery of healthcare have created an environment primed for opioid over-prescription, overuse, improper use and addiction.

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