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Health & Prevention Report: Prevention is key to curbing substance abuse, but it may be left out of legislation meant to address Colorado's opioid crisis

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, has been used for decades as a painkiller in the operating room.
Joe Amon
The Denver Post/Getty Images
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, has been used for decades as a painkiller in the operating room.

Opioids have been a problem in communities across the US for a long time now, but one specific opioid, fentanyl, is causing overdoses at an exponential rate. 

The Colorado legislature is currently debating a bill that aims to address the issue. House Bill 1326 introduces mandatory treatment requirements for some fentanyl offenders, and may make it a felony to carry any amount of the drug. It has bipartisan support.

But critics say the bill doesn’t address the root causes of the fentanyl crisis. They say mandatory treatment won’t be effective because there aren’t enough treatment beds available as it is. Another major problem, according to critics of the bill, is that the bill doesn’t include prevention programs or trauma-informed approaches to treatment.

But those terms - prevention and trauma - have a complicated relationship with treatment for opioid abuse. On this week’s Health & Prevention Report, KSJD’s Lucas Brady Woods discuss what they mean with Katie McClure, the project facilitator for the Southwest Colorado Opioid Overdose Prevention Consortium, also known as SCOOP. 

Disclaimer: This interview discusses overdose and trauma.

Chart: Colorado Health Institute
Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

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Lucas is the News Director for KSJD Community Radio. His work focuses on serving the public of the Four Corners with responsible, factual reporting.