DENVER (CBS4) – Denver health officials reported a big increase in overdose deaths in the first half of 2020 — especially those linked to fentanyl.

(credit: CBS)

The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment looked at the first six months of 2019 and the first six months of 2020. There was an increase of 83% in fatal overdoses in 2020. The number of fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased 354% in those same timeframes.

As of August 21, 2020, the total number of drug-related deaths in the City and County of Denver was 184, compared with 213 for the entire year of 2019.

Bob McDonald, Executive Director of DDPHE and the Public Health Administrator for Denver, said multiple factors are contributing to the increasing overdose risk, including COVID-19, unemployment and other economic factors.

Health officials are urging people to review the resources below and be proactive about preventing overdose deaths:

  • Find out more about naloxone and where to get it at, which lists pharmacies that stock naloxone in Denver (there may be a cost associated based on health insurance). There is a standing order for pharmacies, so you do not need an individual prescription to receive it from a pharmacy. Or, visit for more information on how naloxone works.
  • For people who use opioids and want medication-assisted treatment, they can visit the Denver Health emergency department 24/7 for an immediate assessment and induction on buprenorphine. They can also access treatment for other substances, as well. Denver Health’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Services can be reached at 303-602-4851.
  • For other types of treatment or mental health support, residents can contact the Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255, text “TALK” to 38255, or visit the facility at 4353 East Colfax Avenue. In addition, resources are available at Let’s Talk Colorado.
  • Syringe services programs offer a host of services for people who use substances including naloxone. Contact Access Point at 303-837-1501; Harm Reduction Action Center at 303-572-7800; or Lifepoint at 720-385-6898.

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