For more than a hundred years opioid addiction has been a concern in the US. In recent years, however, it has become a genuine crisis. It is no less true for the city of Denver. The newest opioid and the one most associated with overdose is fentanyl. Other opioids that are rampant in Denver include heroin, Vicodin, and codeine. Heroin is, of course, an illegal drug but the others can be obtained legally with a prescription. Unfortunately, they are often sold and purchased illegally without a prescription.
Hundreds Of Deaths Annually In The State
Every year there are hundreds of people that die from overdoses throughout the state of Colorado. In 2018 more than 500 of those were in the Denver metro area. That represents more than half of the deaths from overdose in the entire state. Even though the last couple of years has seen a slight decline in overdoses for the first time since 2012 it is still a grave concern to the community according to a addiction treatment specialist at Jade Recovery.
Another concerning fact is that while the overall deaths in the state have declined, overdoses in the city of Denver increased. Experts say that the high percentage of overdoses experienced in Denver is due mostly because it is more heavily populated than elsewhere in the state but it is still an epidemic that is serious and needs to be addressed. The state is doing what it can by putting policies in place that are meant to reduce the deaths experienced in the state by opioid overdose.
The CDC has separated the epidemic of opioid use into three different categories of drugs. There are the prescription drugs, there is the street drug heroin, and there’s the newest drug known as fentanyl which is synthetic. Fentanyl is currently considered the most dangerous opioid being used. It is many times stronger than heroin and most users never know how much fentanyl is in the drug they’re taking and this is why they end up overdosing.
Drug pushers like using fentanyl because it has a powerful effect and is something that drugs users like and the synthetic opioid is cheaper than heroin or other choices. This means that the drug pushers are able to produce a product that is cheap to make and that drug users like because of how powerful it is. The biggest problem is that it’s so powerful that even seasoned drug users end up overdosing on it.
How Does The Legalization Of Some Drugs Like Marijuana In Colorado Affect The Epidemic?
A long-standing belief is that marijuana is a gateway drug. Now that many states in the country including Colorado have legalized the recreational use of marijuana there is a great concern that it will lead to the increased use of opioids. As the law stands now, to buy recreational marijuana in Colorado you must be 21 years old or older.
Those under the age of 21 but at least 18 can only purchase marijuana if they have a medical card. If someone is visiting the state and over the age of 21 then they will be able to purchase recreational marijuana but it isn’t possible for anyone who is not a state resident to get a medical marijuana card. Whether a state resident or not, the law says that you must be able to present a government-issued ID proving that you are 21 years old or more before you can legally purchase recreational marijuana in the state.
Current Trends Of Opioid Addiction Treatment In Denver
The entire US is feeling the effects of the opioid epidemic. In fact, there hasn’t been an epidemic of this scale since the AIDS epidemic. Denver is having more deaths now than it experienced previously and most of those come from fentanyl. Obviously, overdoses do take place on heroin and other drugs but the synthetic opioid is what is causing the biggest problem currently.
The Denver Health Department is looking into a different way to care for those suffering from opioid addiction. They are providing treatment around the clock seven days a week. They have an emergency department that can help individuals with withdrawal symptoms regardless of the substances they are addicted to. MAT, which stands for ‘medically assisted treatment’, provides on-demand services that include social evaluations, addresses psychological issues, investigates biological concerns, and they provide other services.
Denver’s health initiative has set the goal to improve the treatment available and retention of recovering addicts. They have put a strategy in place to get more people enrolled and getting them the treatment services that they need. They are putting into place a center that is capable of rapid treatment admissions.
Other Interesting Facts That Are Associated With The Epidemic In Denver
1. Prescription Painkiller Abuse Leads To Heroin Addiction
When an average person envisions a heroin addict they think of someone who is poor and living on the street. An interesting fact is that some heroin addicts start off as ordinary people who suffered an injury and was given a prescription for pain medicine. They became addicted to that medicine and when they were no longer able to get it then they purchased illegal street drugs such as heroin.
2. Opioid Addiction Is Not Just In The Metropolitan Areas
Although the Denver metropolitan area represents a significant percentage of those addicted to opioids in the state, it is a fact that the addiction is moving beyond the metropolitan area into the Counties and small towns. In the past, illegal drug use was mostly in urban areas but is now finding its way to rural areas where teenagers are picking up the habit.
The opioid epidemic is a major problem for the city of Denver and the country as a whole. It cost large amounts of money for the city to address the problem. Even so, if it is not effectively addressed it will cost even more.