More Coloradans Died From Meth Overdoses in 2018 Than Ever Before

CHI’s most up-to-date graphics show drug overdoses in Colorado through 2018
March 10, 2023

New data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) show that 974 Coloradans died of drug overdoses in 2018 — the second highest total on record behind the 1,012 deaths recorded in 2017.

CHI created the graphics below to illustrate drug overdose trends through 2018. They are free for public use and available to download. Data is sourced from CDPHE.

Below: There were 349 deaths involving prescription opioids (a category that includes fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is typically used to treat patients with severe pain but which may also be produced illicitly), 318 involving methamphetamines, 229 involving heroin, and 128 involving cocaine in 2018. Each category, except prescription opioids, saw an increase since 2017.

This is the second year in a row in which there were more methamphetamine overdose deaths than heroin overdose deaths.  

Fentanyl contributed to 102 deaths in 2018, up from 81 in 2017. 

Below: Otero County had the state’s highest rate of drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people, 52.9, in 2018, followed by Rio Grande (52.1), Saguache (47.1), Prowers (41.4), and Las Animas counties (41.3).

Data for counties with small numbers of deaths are suppressed by the state.

Growth in Drug Poisoning Deaths, 2001-2018


Below: There were 5.8 deaths due to prescription opioids per 100,000 people in 2018, down from 6.5 per 100,000 people in 2017. There were 3.9 deaths per 100,000 people due to heroin in 2018, the same rate as in 2017. 

Below: Rates of death due to drug overdose have decreased from 2017, the first time since 2015, but the increase since 2000 has been alarming.