Multi-Agency Working Group Addresses Heroin Problem In Colorado
DENVER - As heroin use continues to climb in Colorado and across the country, a recently formed multi-agency working group has released a report providing a detailed look at usage, overdose and treatment data. The report was released at a press conference at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on April 6, 2017.
“Heroin in Colorado” also includes a survey of Colorado heroin users conducted at methadone clinics across the metro area. Survey results provide a rare glimpse into users’ perspectives, including why they use heroin, how their addiction began and what obstacles they faced trying to end their addiction.
In addition, the report details some of the health effects of heroin use, including disease transmission as a result of shared needles and the increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome, which occurs when babies are born opiate dependent.
The comprehensive report was compiled by the Heroin Response Working Group, which includes representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration’(DEA) Denver Field Division, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Department of Human Services, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office and the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. The full report can be found on line at www.rmhidta.org.
Report highlights include:
Heroin-related deaths among Colorado residents doubled between 2011 and 2015.
There was a 2,035 percent increase in the number of heroin seizures between 2011 and 2015.
Between 2011 and 2015, there was an 80 percent increase in the number of hepatitis C virus cases among people ages 15 to 29 years old. Hepatitis C often is contracted when needles are shared.
Results in the report from the methadone clinic study show:
Heroin use spans demographics. While the income and age range of respondents varied, many current or former heroin users reported having a college education, living in their own home and being employed.
Seventy percent of respondents said prescription pain killers played a role in their decision to use heroin.
When asked what could have prevented their heroin use, respondents said they might not have used heroin if they had never taken pain pills, had different friends or had more education about the effects of drug use.