Report | June 20, 2018

Stopping the Opioid Crisis Begins at Home in Colorado

The role of home visiting programs in addiction prevention in Colorado

Opioid abuse and addiction are exacting a grave toll from communities in Colorado and across the country. The death rate from overdoses increases annually, as does the number of babies born with drug dependency. The estimated annual cost of this epidemic to the U.S. economy has reached an astonishing $504 billion.

On average, 91 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose.

In Colorado, deaths due to opioid overdose comprised 57 percent of all drug-related deaths statewide in 2016.

The epidemic has also had a devastating effect on children: Every 25 minutes a baby is born in the U.S. suffering from opioid withdrawal, also known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Between 2012 and 2016, Colorado recorded a 91 percent increase in its NAS rate.

Adverse Child Experiences such as parental substance abuse can impact a child’s health and well-being throughout their life. Among adults in Colorado, 62 percent experienced at least one ACE during childhood, while 15 percent report having experienced 4 or more ACEs as a child. Individuals who experience more ACEs in childhood began using opioids at a younger age, and had a higher likelihood of opioid overdose.

Every community in Colorado has been hit hard by this epidemic and unfortunately, we are seeing more and more babies born with chemical dependencies. We need to get parents the help they need in order to reverse this trend and save lives.

Chief Nicholas Metz, Aurora Police Department

This report discusses how home visiting can help prevent Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, reduce the amount of Adverse Childhood Experiences, and reduce substance abuse later in life.

Prevention is a critical component of the battle against the opioid epidemic. To meet the opioid challenge, the federal government should maintain its commitment to MIECHV and Early Head Start, which fund home visiting programs across the country. Additionally, Colorado should continue its support of the Nurse-Family Partnership program, and policymakers must work together to develop a funding solution for substance abuse treatment to ensure families get the help they need.


  1. Colorado*