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Colorado overdose deaths up 34.6% in one-year period

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Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Fatal drug overdoses in Colorado are up 34.6% in a one-year period, according to data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Colorado reported 1,655 overdose deaths between April 2020 and April 2021, the CDC data said. Across the country, there were 97,990 reported overdose deaths in the 12-month period ending in April, a 27.2% increase. 

The data is based on provisional counts of overdose deaths and mortality rates from the 50 states and the District of Columbia and captured in the National Vital Statistics System, the CDC said.

State Sen. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, who chairs the state's Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force (BHTF), described the data as a “heartbreaking milestone.”

“Far too many families like mine have to worry about a loved one – whether it be a child or a parent – whose life is at risk because of this epidemic, and we need to do everything we can to stop it,” Pettersen said in a statement. “If we are serious about ending this crisis, then we must treat substance use disorder like we would treat any other illness.”

During the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers passed the Behavioral Health Recovery Act to distribute more than $550 million of federal funds to behavioral health and substance abuse treatment causes across the state.

Of the total, $100 million is available for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. The remaining $450 million will be allocated by the Interim Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force, a subcommittee of lawmakers and medical experts that has been working since July.