State’s top cop pushes program to halt overdoses
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is leading a massive effort to lower the rate of drug overdose deaths in Colorado, and the latest push includes 2,500 doses of preventative medicine and training to the hardest-hit areas, including Mesa, Delta and Ouray counties.
The Colorado Naloxone for Life Initiative, announced Monday, is a response to statistics of the state’s soaring rates of overdose deaths.
The national rate of accidental overdose death is 14.7 deaths per 100,000 people. In Colorado, it’s 16.3 per 100,000 people, and in Mesa County, it’s 22 deaths per 100,000 people.
“It was in February when we went over the overdose statistics that we said, ‘We have to do something and it has to be dramatic, because we’ve got folks dying in Colorado on almost a daily basis,” Coffman said.
Two-dose packs of Narcan, a nasal spray that stops a drug overdose while it’s happening, are available for free to law enforcement officers and first responders in 17 counties who attend trainings in October.
The Mesa County trainings will take place at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 7 at the Grand Junction Police Department, 555 Ute Ave.
The trainings are also open to the public. Narcan prescriptions are available to the public at all City Market/King Soopers pharmacies as a standing order.
Coffman said the initiative is one step in repairing the scars that addiction and overdose leave on communities.
“I don’t want people to lose sight, when they’re looking at data and seeing that there’s been a significant increase in deaths, to forget that each of those is an individual who was loved and valued by their family and friends,” Coffman said.
“I think some people don’t understand how people don’t have the willpower to overcome (addiction), but we’re helping individuals whose lives have value, and it’s not ours to judge. We don’t know how they got to a place of having an addiction, we just know they need help getting out of it,” she said.
Grand Junction Police Department spokeswoman Heidi Davidson said while the Grand Junction Fire Department already carries Narcan, the police department is grateful for additional resources from the attorney general’s office.
To register for the training, visit the County Sheriff’s of Colorado website, http://www.csoc.org, and click the training tab.