Denver

State Officials Take Action in Face of Growing Opioid Crisis

As heroin-related deaths continue to rise, legislators in Colorado are looking to expand public health services.

Colorado’s legislative Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Interim Study Committee recently voted to move forward with a six-bill package of legislation, aimed to help treat, prevent and intervene if possible when opioid addiction occurs.

“Right now, we’re seeing about 60 percent of overdose deaths due to pills, with about 40 percent due to heroin,” said Robert Valuck, director of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. “Heroin is making a comeback.”

“Overdose deaths across the nation have doubled in the past 15 years,” said Lindsey Myers, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s violence and injury prevention branch chief.

As health-care professionals review the new initiatives, responses have been very positive.

• One bill proposes to “create training programs for health professionals, law enforcement and at-risk communities for safe opioid prescribing, medication-assisted treatment and overdose prevention.”

“Historically, doctors refer patients out for substance-abuse disorders,” Valuck said. “We really need doctors and physician assistants to take responsibility for their patients, and treat their disorder as they would any other disease.”

According to Valuck, physicians and health-care providers could benefit from learning more about medication-assisted treatment and utilizing that treatment with their patients.

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To learn more about how Colorado is rolling out new public health initiatives to address the opioid epidemic, please visit Centennial Citizen.

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