Opioids

Opioids

Few policies involve the trauma and raw emotion of the opioid crisis.  This epidemic knows no boundaries1; it’s rural and urban, male and female, people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, and young and old.  It is impacting our friends, families, health care organizations, the criminal justice system, and entire communities.

One Coloradan dies of an opioid overdose every 17 hours. In Alamosa county, 90% of prisoners in the jail2 are opioid users. In Colorado, we saw a 100 percent increase in the number of opioid prescriptions between 1999 and 2016.  And during that time, the number of overdoses also went up drastically: over 200 percent from 1999 to 2014. As Colorado’s next AG, I will lead on this issue and have a plan3 for treating this epidemic as a public health issue rather than as a criminal justice issue.

When I visited Garfield County, I spoke to Matt who saw firsthand the effects of addiction in his community. Matt explained, “when somebody has any other kind of disease we don’t throw them in jail, we throw them in a hospital.” Similarly, Jason Chippeaux, the COO of a health care provider in Pueblo, described the epidemic as “a wildfire with zero containment — growing, but lacking unified command. In the meantime, people are dying.” Another provider, JC in Crowley County, echoed the sentiment that “people are dying” and expressed frustration that his attempts to open a treatment clinic were repeatedly impeded by bureaucratic obstacles.

As Attorney General, I will:
  • Prioritize the treatment of opioids as a public health crisis, helping those suffering from addiction to get treatment and a chance at recovery, rather than putting them in jail or prison;
  • Join a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies4 that deceived users, telling them that opioid-related drugs would not become addictive;
  • Allocate funds from winning the lawsuit to treatment resources;
  • Streamline the permitting process for opening health clinics, prioritizing transparent information and responsive customer service; and
  • Encourage empathy for those suffering from opioid addiction through legal and moral leadership, seeking to reduce the stigma that often prevents people from getting help.
As Attorney General, I will:
  • Prioritize the treatment of opioids as a public health crisis, helping those suffering from addiction to get treatment and a chance at recovery, rather than putting them in jail or prison;
  • Join a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies4 that deceived users, telling them that opioid-related drugs would not become addictive;
  • Allocate funds from winning the lawsuit to treatment resources;
  • Streamline the permitting process for opening health clinics, prioritizing transparent information and responsive customer service; and
  • Encourage empathy for those suffering from opioid addiction through legal and moral leadership, seeking to reduce the stigma that often prevents people from getting help.