opinion

Letter to the Editor: Next steps to stopping overdose deaths

Posted 9/12/18

Thanks for your attention to Overdose Awareness Day, which is recognized internationally on Aug. 31.

In recent years, Colorado has made strides in enacting policies to curtail overdose deaths. …

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opinion

Letter to the Editor: Next steps to stopping overdose deaths

Posted

Thanks for your attention to Overdose Awareness Day, which is recognized internationally on Aug. 31.
In recent years, Colorado has made strides in enacting policies to curtail overdose deaths. State law allows anyone to carry the lifesaving medication, naloxone (Narcan), which safely and easily reverses respiratory depression in opioid overdose emergencies. The website stoptheclockcolorado.org lists pharmacies where naloxone is available without a prescription. In addition to naloxone, witnesses to an overdose can call for help under our Good Samaritan law without fearing arrest or prosecution for drug possession. But we can do more!

Along with these vital measures, Colorado urgently needs supervised consumption services (SCS). These are legally sanctioned facilities designed to reduce the health and public order issues with public injection. Those who use drugs – and potentially overdose – in places like parks, alleyways and restrooms can instead do so in a controlled, hygienic setting where medical supervision, sterile equipment and responsible disposal practices protect the program participants as well as the broader community.

SCS deliver cost-effective, evidence-based harm reduction services on-the-spot along with referrals to drug treatment, health care and social services. More than 100 such facilities are operating worldwide and they are empirically shown to save money while improving public health. What’s more, not a single overdose death has ever been reported at an SCS site.
SCS are part of a comprehensive, fiscally responsible public health approach to overdose and other negative consequences of problematic drug use.

It’s time for Colorado to take the next step by establishing SCS.

Amanda Bent,
Drug Policy Alliance

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