Our view: Initiative could save a life | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Initiative could save a life

At issue:

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office launches potentially life-saving initiative.

Our view:

The program is another tool in the fight against the rise in opioid overdose deaths.

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office has launched a statewide initiative aimed at reversing the trend of opioid drug overdose deaths in Colorado.

At issue:

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office launches potentially life-saving initiative.

Cynthia Coffman was in Steamboat Thursday and dropped by the newspaper office to discuss the new program with Steamboat Pilot & Today staff. She explained that the Colorado Naloxone for Life Initiative will help provide law enforcement and other first responders with training and access to Narcan, a drug that can be easily administered to an overdosing person. It can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, potentially preventing a person from dying.

The Attorney General’s office has allocated $264,500 in funding for the initiative with the money coming from settlements with pharmaceutical companies. The money will be used to purchase Narcan rescue kits, which will be delivered to law enforcement personnel and first responders in the 17 Colorado counties that have the highest overdose death rates.

And even though Routt County is not among those counties that will receive the kits, it was selected as the site for a regional training on the use of Narcan. The training sessions will be held Friday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center and are open to the public.

Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen reported his department has already purchased Narcan through the Attorney General’s Office, and he will send two officers to the training. The Routt County Sheriff’s Office has also announced their intention to have four deputies attend the training but they have yet to purchase the life-saving drug.

The abuse of prescription painkillers, which can easily shift into heroin use, is a national epidemic that has reached Steamboat Springs and Routt County. Since 2013, local authorities report there have been 14 opioid-related drug overdoses in Routt County since 2013 and the number is increasing.

Individuals who struggle with addiction to prescription painkillers are not drug dealers or “people from the other side of the tracks;” they include high school athletes, promising college students, fathers, mothers and respected businessmen. This deadly scourge threatens every county in Colorado, and initiatives like the one introduced by Coffman are worth supporting.

Narcan alone is not the answer, but it can save lives so that people struggling with drug addiction might have the chance to find the help they need to overcome their disease. As Coffman said, “every individual who dies from a drug overdose impacts others, including the dedicated men and women who arrive on the scene of an overdose or subsequent death.”

The Rx Task Force has been leading our local fight against opioid addiction in Steamboat Springs and Routt County by offering a continuing series of community forums about the issue with a focus on education and prevention. Law enforcement agencies, schools, the medical community and local government officials have also joined the discussion, and we’re optimistic more programs to address opioid addiction and abuse are on the horizon locally.

We encourage the city of Steamboat Springs to continue to equip their law enforcement officers with Narcon, and we suggest the Routt County Sheriff’s Office does the same. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue paramedics have been administering the drug for years, and they report lives have been saved.

Friday’s training is not limited to law enforcement or emergency responders but is open to anyone in the community who signs up to attend. This could include health care professionals, teachers, business owners and family members who have loved ones struggling with opioid addiction. The sessions will also include a train-the-trainer component.

Depending on the number of people who register for the training, there could be up to three sessions held here. Register at csoc.org/training_schedule.asp — and you could save a life.

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