Colorado is set to receive $33.8 million over the next 18 years in the battle against opioid addiction. Areas around the state will split $18 million now with Denver being the recipient of $4.7 million from the settlement of lawsuits.

“The opioid epidemic has taken a devastating toll on our communities, and we need to help those struggling with addiction get on and stay on the road to recovery,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock in a news release.

The money will be allocated to three core areas:

  • $1.9 million on treatment, including expansion of support systems designed to prevent abuse.
  • $1.6 million to increase the tools used by the Health Department.
  • $1.2 million to improve the addiction-related infrastructure, including training for first responders and additional mobile support teams.

While news about opioids took a back seat during the COVID pandemic, deaths from opioids have continued to rise. From 540 deaths in 2020 to 800 in 2021 — a 260% increase since 2019. The largest share of deaths has included abuse of fentanyl. According to the Common Sense Institute, the cost of dealing with opioid-related deaths in Colorado has now reached $15.2 billion.

Drug abuse continues to be a growing problem in the state, outpacing the rest of the country. As of April 2022, deaths reported from drug overdose grew 6.9% over the past 12 months nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In Colorado, drug-related deaths are projected to increase by nearly 16%.

So far, the Colorado Attorney General has sued and approved settlements from Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma, Teva/Allergan, Mallinckrodt, McKinsey & Company, and other drug distributors.