Opioid Data for Boulder County
Unsorted prescription pills sit in a pharmacist's counting tray before they are bottled.

Opioid Data for Boulder County

Response to the Opioid Crisis in Boulder County

The opioid crisis is a complex issue, best understood through a variety of data sources covering health-related burden, in addition to both the social and legal ramifications of opioid misuse. The Opioid Advisory Group and Boulder County Public Health works with local and state partners to see trends across sectors, understand the current burden of the opioid epidemic in our community, and evaluate whether current strategies and programs are making a difference.

Boulder County Opioid Data

Data can tell us what is happening in our community, for example use of treatment services or drug possession events, as well as how outcomes are being impacted, such as hospitalizations and deaths connected with opioid use.

While in isolation, a single data point cannot tell a complete story, we hope by showing cross-sectoral data side-by-side, we tell a more complete story of the opioid epidemic in Boulder County and bring partners together to implement solutions.

Healthy Kids Colorado Survey

graph showing increase in Works Program participants
Syringe Access – The Works Program

The WORKS program, administered by Boulder County Public Health, Boulder County AIDS project and Mental Health Partners, provides outreach, education, and syringe exchange services to reduce HIV and viral hepatitis transmission among people who inject drugs and their partners. Demand for WORKS services is high and continually growing: From 2010 to 2017 number of WORKS clients has increased by over 1,100%.

Hospital Data

Multiple Provider Episodes

multiple provider episodes rate

Patients Prescribed Long Acting/Extended Release Opioids Who Were Opioid Naive

graph showing patients who were prescribed long acting/extended release opioids who were opioid naive

Patient Prescription Days with Overlapping Opioid & Benzodiazepine Prescriptions

graph showing patient prescription days with overlapping opioid and benzodiazepineprescriptions
Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) have been enacted by nearly all states across the nation (49/50 states). While PDMPS vary, they all provide data on prescribing and dispensing of opioids and other drugs, which are used by medical providers, public health professionals, law enforcement and others for prevention, enforcement, education and research.

Colorado’s PDMP is managed by the Department of Regulatory Agencies. Boulder County data is compiled by Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.

Learn more about prescribing in Boulder County.

Possession of Opioids

graph showing law enforcement charges of possession of opioids in Boulder County

Emergency Medical Services

graph of opioid-assisted resuscitative emergencies
When an ambulance is called to a scene, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals follow guidelines for administering naloxone, which acts as an antagonist to reverse an opioid overdose. Since patients who are suffering from heart attacks and other conditions may have similar symptoms to those experiencing an opioid overdose, naloxone can be administered in cases where it is unclear whether a drug overdose has occurred.

If the case is a true overdose, patients will generally improve upon naloxone administration. If the case is not an opioid overdose, the naloxone will have no effect (negative or positive). EMS professionals estimate the number of opioid overdoses by counting the number of opioid administrations where patient condition improved after naloxone was provided (they call these opioid-associated resuscitative emergencies).

The number of saves by EMS in Boulder County may be decreasing due to an increase in bystanders carrying and administering naloxone prior to EMS arrival. In addition, naloxone may be administered by other first responders such as police. All Boulder County law enforcement staff were trained to carry naloxone in 2017. In Boulder County naloxone is also available for people who inject drugs, friends, and relatives through the WORKS program as well as pharmacies.

Learn more about accessing naloxone/narcan at BoulderCountyNarcan.org.

Local Hospital Data

Emergency Department Rate Due to Opioids

emergency department visits for opioid overdose

Emergency Department Rate Due to Heroin

age-adjusted emergency department visits due to heroin

Hospitalization Rate Due to Opioids

age-adjusted hospitalizations due to opioid overdose

Hospitalization Rate Due to Heroin

hospitalizations due to heroin overdose

To understand the health effects and burden to the healthcare system related to opioid overdose and misuse, we calculated the total number of patients seen in the emergency department and hospitalized for heroin or prescription opioids (natural, synthetic opioids and methadone, or ICD-10-CM Codes T40.2-T40.4).

We included cases where the primary hospital discharge diagnosis indicated a drug overdose or poisoning from one of the three mentioned substance categories. We did not include codes involving opioid withdrawal symptoms or adverse effects from prescribed medications, or cases where the drug code was not the first listed. There were 174 emergency department visits and 87 inpatient stays due to prescription opioids in 2016 and 2017 combined.

Estimates for 2016/2017 were calculated with Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) data using ICD-10-CM codes, data 2015 and prior was provided by Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment and calculated using ICD-9-CM codes. Due to changes from ICD-9-CM to ICD-10, numbers pre- and post-2016 are not directly comparable.

Residents Seeking Treatment for Opioids

residents seeking treatment for opioids

Residents Seeking Treatment for Heroin

residents seeking treatment for heroin
chart showing rate of overdose deaths in Boulder County

Data calculated with Vital Statistics death data. Prescription opioids include codeine and morphine and other prescription opioids (T40.2), methadone (T40.3), and synthetic narcotics (T40.4) as underlying cause of death.

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Substance Abuse Advisory Group

Main: 303-413-7500
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