Colorado has Taken Positive Steps to Address Overdose in the State, Though Drug Overdose Remains a Leading Cause of Accidental Death in the U.S.
DENVER—Governor John Hickenlooper will issue a proclamation to officially recognize Colorado’s newly declared Overdose Awareness Day. The Drug Policy Alliance will join the Harm Reduction Action Center at the state capitol this Friday, August 30 at 3 p.m. in the rotunda for a reading of the Governor's proclamation and a moment of silence for the loved ones who have been lost to overdose. There also will be an exhibit of the In Xanadu portraiture series by Matt Slaby, highlighting the impact of overdose in local community.
The event will be celebrated annually on August 31in conjunction with International Overdose Awareness Day.
Overdose deaths have tripled in Colorado over the last ten years and now are responsible for as many accidental deaths as car accidents each year in Colorado. Nationally, Colorado has the second highest rate of prescription abuse after Oregon. In order to reverse this trend, Colorado has passed two pieces of overdose prevention legislation over the last two years, including a 911 Good Samaritan law and expanded access to the life-saving overdose antidote, Naloxone.
"We are so appreciative that Gov. Hickenlooper understands that we are in the midst of an overdose epidemic and is utilizing Overdose Awareness Day to send a strong message to current and former drug users that they are valued," said Lisa Raville, the director of the Harm Reduction Action Center, the largest harm reduction program in Colorado.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death in 2010. There were 38,329 drug overdose deaths in the United States, 22,134 (60 percent) of which were related to pharmaceuticals. Among people 25 to 64 years old, drug overdose caused more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes. The highest death rates were among people 45-49 years of age.
“Colorado has made incredible effort to recognize this emergency and taken active steps to reverse this particularly devastating trend,” said Laura Pegram of the Drug Policy Alliance. “It is my sincere hope that that the state of Colorado will continue pursuing policies that utilize a health-centered approach to drug use and abuse issues as opposed to relying on the criminal justice system as has traditionally been the norm. “