Colorado is facing an epidemic of opioid use disorders and overdoses, as an estimated 224,000 Coloradan’s misuse prescription drugs each year according to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE). Colorado’s drug overdose rate continues to outpace the rate nationally with opioid-related overdoses contributing to a large proportion of overdose deaths.
The need for prescription drug overdose prevention efforts is especially high where there is a growing older population more vulnerable to chronic pain, a higher frequency of risky prescription practices and patient behaviors and higher opioid-related rates of Emergency Department visits and deaths from prescription opioid overdoses.
With support and funding from CDPHE through The Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention for Communities grant, Las Animas and Huerfano counties are working to address the harmful impact of prescription opioid overdose in Las Animas and Huerfano counties.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription opioids such as oxycodone, morphine and fentanyl can be used to treat moderate-to-severe pain and are often prescribed following surgery or injury, or for health conditions such as cancer. Recently, there has been a dramatic increase in the acceptance and use of prescription opioids for the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain, such as back pain or osteoarthritis, despite serious risks and the lack of evidence about their long-term effectiveness.
Anyone who takes prescription opioids can become addicted to them. Once addicted, it can be hard to stop. Taking too many prescription opioids can stop a person’s breathing — leading to death.
In addition to the risks of addiction, abuse and overdose, the use of prescription opioids can have many serious side effects, even when taken as directed.
The best ways to prevent opioid overdose deaths are to improve opioid prescribing, reduce exposure to opioids, prevent misuse and treat opioid use disorder.
Resources for Health Care Providers
- Opioid Overdose Prevention (CDPHE)
- Training for Prescribers (CDC)
- Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain (CDC)
- Infographic: Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain (CDC)