Last year, 959 people died of a drug overdose in Colorado, according to the Colorado Health Institute, an increase of 83 percent from 2001. To put this number into perspective, the number of overdose …
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Last year, 959 people died of a drug overdose in Colorado, according to the Colorado Health Institute, an increase of 83 percent from 2001. To put this number into perspective, the number of overdose deaths in Colorado is almost twice the number of deaths occurring from traffic accidents in our state.There are steps we can take to reduce harm to addicts and help prevent overdose death. Syringe exchange programs and vaccination services greatly help increase the safety of drug use, though they don’t help curb the problem. Further, increasing the distribution of naloxone, a potent overdose antidote, to first responders would immediately impact the number of drug overdose-related deaths.In our communities there is an immediate need to educate and reduce the stigma surrounding addiction.This spring, the state of Colorado allocated $1.8 million towards an anti-stigma campaign. The move to end stigma is a fantastic start, but to really make an impact, greater financial commitments are needed on top of these anti-stigma efforts. We can’t assume that because funds are being put towards ending stigma, that addiction itself will decrease. In addition to an anti-stigma campaign, Colorado needs to better fund Medicaid in general or appropriate funds to support comparable reimbursement rates of private insurers.September, being National Recovery Month, is a great time to take action. As addiction and recovery professionals, we urge folks to write to their congresspeople, reach out to state and community representatives and demand more funding allocated to fighting this disease.Cortland Mathers-Suter,Founder of AspenRidge Recovery in Lakewood
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