One troubling byproduct of the 2020 COVID crisis is its effect on the already daunting opioid problem across the U.S. The American Medical Association (AMA) publicized a series of reports in August that detailed how more than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related deaths this year, and the AMA urged governors and state legislatures to take aggressive actions and deploy strategies that will help address these increases.
The Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners has been monitoring opioid-related issues and programs in and around the County, and several Board members have immersed themselves in relief efforts. In 2014, Arapahoe County formed a prescription drug overdose task force that includes the County’s Sheriff’s and Coroner’s office, the Tri-County Health Department, officials from Adams County, and other relevant community resources to develop effective strategies to reduce a growing public health crisis that has claimed hundreds of lives in Arapahoe County alone in recent years.
Commissioner Kathleen Conti (District 1) recently partnered with the Colorado Film Commission to produce a video about the danger of opioid use, Commissioner Nancy Jackson (District 4) has done extensive work on mental and behavioral health and criminal justice reform, and Commissioner Bill Holen (District 5) has been a fixture in anti-opioid efforts throughout the state and in Washington, DC.
August 31 marked the annual International Overdose Awareness Day, and as the AMA noted, 2020 has been a grim year for opioid-related illnesses and deaths. While projects like the drug overdose task force have helped bring about changes such as improved state funding for drug treatment clinics, improved monitoring programs to find individuals who are unlawfully seeking prescriptions, public education, and successful lawsuits against drug manufacturers, the battle against addiction continues.
“While these collaborative efforts are encouraging, the battle to end the scourge of deadly addiction must continue to help reduce the deaths and save the lives of those addicted to these drugs,” Commissioner Holen said. “We all can play a role in educating our elected officials, the medical community, our families and each other about the dangers of prescription painkilling drugs. The need for more treatment centers, drug counselors and public awareness is the only course to finding lasting solutions to the devastating crisis of drug addiction and its terrible consequences.”
Tri-county Health Department
Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention
Arapahoe County Drug Treatment programs