Opioid addiction hits close to home for Colorado lawmaker

DENVER -- Colorado's General Assembly concludes this week and for one state representative, opioid addiction hits close to home.

Brittany Petersen is like many Coloradoans with loved ones battling addiction. Her mother for 29 years relied on opioid medication and in recent years turned to heroin

"She found a doctor that would give her the medication that she wanted. Over time, she became incredibly addicted and 29 years later she still has not come back," Petersen said. "The thing she dreads most is not death its withdrawal."

The difference between Petersen and many other suffering family members is she is a member of the state house. She's in a position to change laws and she's been an advocate against overprescribing

"I inherently hate pain pills I wont even take Tylenol," Petersen said. "I think the question we have to answer is are we going to provide a pathway to recovery."

Petersen said this year, the most significant change lawmakers made was setting up a select committee. It will examine the cause of addiction and possible solutions.

"It's not a political thing. It's a deep need that needs be addressed," Petersen said.

Sens. Kevin Lundberg and Cheri Jahn said the issuing is transcending politics. Lundberg is a conservative Republican, Jahn a staunch Democrat.

They have teemed up to create a research center at the University of Colorado to study addiction utilizing $1 million from marijuana revenue.

They hope the private sector will kick in more.

So as the General Assembly's session concludes this week, heroin in Colorado is top of mind.

Petersen said there is much more to do, hoping those with financial interests such as pharmaceutical companies get out of the way so more change takes place.