COLORADO, USA — It’s nearly impossible to know exactly how many people overdose in Colorado. What we do know is that a lot more people are being saved by the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.
Every year the state health department buys naloxone in bulk. They distribute it to law enforcement agencies and harm reduction organizations across Colorado.
Naloxone, often referred to by the brand name Narcan, saves lives by reversing the effects of an overdose. The numbers show us it’s more readily available than ever.
From July 2019 through June 2020, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment purchased 10,454 doses of Narcan to distribute to harm reduction organizations, law enforcement agencies, public health departments and schools. That's according to numbers obtained by 9NEWS from CDPHE.
The following year, the number jumped to 51,631 doses.
From July 1, 2021 to June 14, 2022, the state bought more than 124,000 doses of Narcan to distribute across Colorado -- nearly 12 times more than just two years ago.
"People have been thirsting for Narcan for a really long time. We are in the worst overdose crisis we’ve ever been in," said Lisa Raville, Executive Director of the Harm Reduction Action Center in Denver. "People shouldn’t have to die of a preventable overdose."
Last year Raville and her team distributed more than 6,000 doses of Narcan. Most of it went to people who use drugs and come to her for resources to use in a safer way.
The Harm Reduction Action Center is the largest community harm reduction organization in the state.
"My staff and I recognized and responded to about 25 overdoses in the last 10 years, on the property or around the property. Six last year," Raville said.
The city of Denver started a program earlier this year to give out free Narcan to anyone who wanted it. So many people signed up asking for it that the city is still struggling to keep up with the demand for naloxone and fentanyl testing strips.
"Now more than ever, everybody needs to be carrying Narcan because we need to be there for a healthier and safer community," Raville said. "Harm reduction organizations like mine, and there’s about 15 of us in the state, are on the front lines of the worst overdose crisis we’ve ever been in."
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