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Colorado’s 6 bills to fight opioid epidemic: Can Denver become first US city to have safe site for heroin users?

Colorado’s 6 bills to fight opioid epidemic: Can Denver become first US city to have safe site for heroin users?

01-29 | Rachael

As the entire United States reels under an unprecedented opioid epidemic, no state is immune to the crisis, Colorado being no exception. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription drugs and illicit opioids take one life in every 9 hours and 36 minutes in Colorado. Opioid addiction remains one of the most crippling health crisis in the state, affecting a large chunk of the population.

Although the state has tried various steps to contain the rising opioid mess, not much has been attained so far. In yet another effort in the state, Colorado lawmakers are set to take a decision on six new bills aimed at curbing the opioid crisis. Designed by a 10-member committee of bipartisan lawmakers, the bills are likely to face an opposition in the house.

Colorado’s measures against addiction

Drafted by the Interim Committee on Opioid and Other Substance Abuse, the 10-member panel included five Republicans and five Democrats. The six draft bills contain the following measures to bolster the fight against the menace of drug addiction in the U.S.:

1. The proposed laws would curtail and restrict a patient’s initial prescription for opioid painkillers to just seven days. To extend it by another seven days, one would to consult a doctor or an expert.

2. One of these proposed legislations – SB 40 – intends to make Denver the first city in the U.S. to set up a pilot program for a supervised injection facility. The idea to allow the city to operate a “safe site” for heroin injection and ingestion of other similar drugs seem to be a controversial one. A safe site aims to prevent the risk of accidental overdose in addicts. State Sen. Ken Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, who was also a part of the lawmaking committee, has agreed that providing a safe site in Denver for intravenous drug users seem challenging and may have to lock horns with the conservatives.

3. The third bill would allow the government-funded schools to obtain disclaimers. This will allow the health staff to get and administer Narcan – the life-saving anti-overdose drug – as required.

4. The fourth bill would waive the college loan for students getting their behavioral health and anti-addiction specialties degrees. This would be possible only if they actively participate in the Colorado Health Services Program for at least two years. The aim of this program is to send the professionals to under-served areas.

5. The fifth bill aims to get the Medicaid program cover the cost of residential opioid and addiction treatment. However, it would need passage of the act at the federal level since it would cost the state taxpayers more than $40 million.

6. The sixth bill entails further investment in educating doctors and other professionals on pain management and public education related to addiction and the threat from opioids, alcohol and other substances. The lawmakers would be spending more than $3 million from the state marijuana revenues.

Road to recovery

As of now, the bills are yet to become the laws in Colorado. These legislations are important and need to be passed at the earliest to enable the state government deal with the situation strongly.

If there’s someone near you who is addicted to any illegal or prescription drug, the Colorado Drug Addiction Helpline can pitch in with the necessary information. Call our 24/7 helpline number (866) 218-7546 or chat online with one of our representatives to find out one of the best drug rehab centers in Colorado.


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