Spot­light on opi­oid abuse

Se­nate OKs bill cre­at­ing CU re­search cen­ter to com­bat sub­stance

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By John Frank

The spike in opi­oid over­dose deaths in Colorado has prompted state law­mak­ers to take ac­tion to ex­pand ac­cess to sub­stance-abuse treat­ment and ad­dic­tion preven­tion.

The state Se­nate on Wed­nes­day gave unan­i­mous ap­proval to leg­is­la­tion that would cre­ate a sub­stance abuse re­search cen­ter at the Univer­sity of Colorado and an­other bill to launch a pi­lot project in two hard-hit coun­ties.

“We have an epi­demic, not just in this coun­try, but in the state of Colorado,” said Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, the spon­sor of one of the bills.

Opi­oid-re­lated over­dose deaths in 2015 to­taled 472, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est fig­ures from the state health depart­ment, ex­ceed­ing once again the num­ber of homi­cides in the state.

Other states are see­ing a greater in­crease in deaths, but cer­tain ar­eas of Colorado are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a sig­nif­i­cant spike in heroin ad­dic­tion and pre­scrip­tion opi­oid abuse.

Demo­cratic Sen. Leroy Garcia, a prac­tic­ing para­medic, knows the sto­ries in his home­town of Pue­blo.

“The fail­ure to ad­dress this con­cern is lead­ing to more and more states see­ing more and more peo­ple dy­ing at younger and younger ages — leav­ing more and more fam­i­lies torn and more and more com­mu­ni­ties torn apart and devastated by this trav­esty,” he said.

Garcia is the lead spon­sor on Se­nate Bill 74 to cre­ate a pi­lot pro­gram in Pue­blo and Routt coun­ties to in­crease ac­cess to med­i­ca­tion-as­sisted treat­ment.

The two-year, $1 mil­lion pro­gram will train nurse prac­ti­tion­ers and physi­cian as­sis­tants to ad­min­is­ter buprenor­phine as part of ad­dic­tion ser­vices. He said the two coun­ties were se­lected to sup­port on­go­ing lo­cal ef­forts to ad­dress opi­oid ad­dic­tion.

The other mea­sure, Se­nate Bill 193, seeks to de­velop ad­di­tional sub­stance-abuse strate­gies through the cre­ation of a re­search

cen­ter at the state’s flag­ship univer­sity. The pro­gram will start with $1 mil­lion in seed money from mar­i­juana taxes, and CU pledged to find pri­vate donors and seek fed­eral re­search dol­lars.

Jahn said the cen­ter will help con­tinue dis­cus­sions about preven­tion and treat­ment to keep the mo­men­tum from re­cent in­ter­ven­tion ef­forts at the state level.

Both mea­sures re­ceived bi­par­ti­san sup­port in the Repub­li­can-led Se­nate.

Sen. Tim Neville, R-Lit­tle­ton, called opi­oid abuse “prob­a­bly the No. 1 is­sue fac­ing Colorado in terms of sever­ity.”

Sen. Kevin Lund­berg, R-Berthoud, ac­knowl­edged he is of­ten re­luc­tant to cre­ate new state pro­grams with ex­pen­sive price tags, but he said this is­sue is dif­fer­ent.

“This,” he said, “is an is­sue that is sig­nif­i­cant enough that we need to be a part of the so­lu­tion, not just watch the prob­lem.”

The Demo­cratic-led House is ex­pected to give the mea­sures fi­nal ap­proval be­fore ses­sions ad­journs May 10.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.