Congressman planning visits for opioid abuse education |

Congressman planning visits for opioid abuse education

Many of today's most addictive drugs are not being sold by drug dealers on street corners but can be found in almost every home inside the medicine cabinet. Opiates have long been used by physicians to help their patients deal with pain, but one of the worst side affects of opiates is addiction.

— Colorado Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) is planning visits to Western Slope communities to learn more about the impacts of opioid abuse.

The trips are planned to begin in June, but it is not yet known if he will be visiting Routt or Moffat counties.

Heroin and prescription painkiller abuse is a national epidemic that communities like Steamboat Springs are not immune from. In recent months, the newly formed Rx Task Force in Steamboat has been raising awareness about the issue.

“The congressman wants to take a much more hands-on approach and really hear the localized stories,” said Ryan Shucard, Tipton’s communications director.

Ken Davis, a physician assistant and member of the Rx Task Force, hopes Tipton will consider visiting the area.

“There certainly are ways in which he can advocate for initiatives at the local level,” Davis said.

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Tipton is a member of the bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic. Painkillers oftentimes are the addictive gateway drugs that lead to heroin use.

"Beyond securing our borders and enabling law enforcement to do their jobs, expanding opioid abuse prevention efforts and treating those already afflicted with addiction is perhaps the most important action Congress can take to empower states and localities to continue to combat this nationwide epidemic," Tipton said in a news release.

"Across the Third Congressional District, from Pueblo to Moffat counties, we have seen the use, abuse and sadly, mortality rates rise in recent years,” Tipton continued. “I will continue to work with my colleagues on the task force in a bipartisan fashion to pass legislation providing communities and local agencies the resources they need to prevent addiction from taking hold, treat those already addicted to opioids and get those individuals back on their feet."

The Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic has a series of laws it hopes to get passed to combat the problem.

Tipton is the co-sponsor of several bills aimed at opioid abuse prevention efforts and addiction treatment.

Other bills in the works include the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. It authorizes $85 million annually to establish a comprehensive strategy to combat the epidemic through enhanced grant programs.

Another bill is Lali’s Law, which would provide grants to fund state programs that allow pharmacists to distribute naloxone without a prescription. Naloxone is a drug that can save the lives of people who overdose.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland