Colorado awarded $41.6 million over next 2 years to help with opioid crisis


DENVER (KDVR) — The Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) was awarded $41.6 million over the next two years to help fight the opioid crisis from the State Opioid Response grant on Monday.

“We know access to affordable treatment in their community gives Coloradans the best chance for recovery, particularly during these challenging times,” Robert Werthwein, director of OBH, said. 

“We are thrilled to receive more funding and build on our partnerships with hospitals, jails, substance use treatment providers and advocacy organizations that are helping us ramp up services across the state.”

The grant money will go towards better treatment, more nalaxone kits, campaigns to erode the stigma of drug addiction, getting treatment to uninsured Coloradans struggling with addiction, and even certain rental assistance for those who are going through the first stages of recovery.

On International Overdose Awareness Day, experts tell the Problem Solvers the issue has worsened during the pandemic, continuing the troubling trends happening in Colorado.

“It looks like this could be a very bad year for the entire country but also for Colorado,” Chief Strategy Officer of the Well Being Trust Dr. Benjamin Miller said. “We know that addiction is a chronic disease, and so we should be just as comfortable talking about issues of addiction, as we are with diabetes or hypertension.”

Conditions like staying at home and being isolated from others have made it so much harder for those struggling with addiction.

According to CDPHE, there were 443 overdose deaths in Colorado from January through April in 2020. That’s a 35% increase from the same period last year.

Another startling statistic: the amount of fentanyl-related overdose deaths continues to rise. According to the Denver Coroner’s Office, there were 25 of these type of deaths from January through August of 2019. So far, there have been 68 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in 2020.

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