Colorado ranks second in opioid abuse nationwide

DENVER -- The number of heroin- and opioid-related overdoses making headlines nationwide is rising.

What might come as a surprise is Colorado is one of the leaders in opioid abuse.

Rep. Diana DeGette spoke Friday at the Stout Street Health Center in Denver about what needs to be done to fight the problem.

She says statistics show that every 19 minutes, an American dies from an unintentional overdose. In Colorado, more than 300 people die from opioid overdoses every year.

Cynthia Scudo, a mother of eight and a grandmother of 20, could have ended up in that statistic. Instead she’s speaking out about the epidemic that affects everyday people.

“I was typical middle class America and I became a heroin addict,” Scudo said.

Once taking up to six 80mg OxyContin at a time, she turned to heroin when the prescription pills got too expensive and harder to get.

“It’s not your typical homeless person anymore that struggles with this,” she said.

“There is something that we can do in Congress and that is we can apply congressional funding to address the epidemic all year long,” DeGette said.

Scudo has been sober for five years.  She said physicians in Colorado don’t hold the tight standards other states do.

DeGette said there is legislation pending in congress that could help with the fight.