Larimer County experienced an increase of 73.3 percent in cases of accidental overdose from prescription painkillers between 2014 and 2015. Last year the county recorded 43 cases of accidental drug overdose which represented an increase of 34.4% from the 2014 tally. Prescription painkillers were responsible for more than 60% of all the recorded deaths due to accidental drug overdose in the previous year.
As observed by Brooke Badberg, the supervisor of the clinical program of addiction services, a department at SummitStone Health Partners, many people do not really understand the risks involved when you mix some prescription drugs with other medications or alcohol. Almost 81% of deaths caused by accidental drug overdose in the year 2015 involved prescription painkillers combined with at least alcohol and/or another drug. It is a very scary situation because the knowledge gap simply makes fighting the epidemic much more difficult. Many people are either just ignorant or have no idea about the risks involved when wrongly taking prescription drugs.
Badberg adds that getting addicted to prescription drugs is pretty easy. It doesn't really matter whether one just had the intention to get a temporary high or not. It is important to be cautious and follow the right steps in taking any prescription drug in order to avoid addiction. An individual must also be aware that getting addicted to such drugs is very much easy and therefore they must be used sparingly.
People who become addicted to prescription drugs are highly likely to use hard drugs such as heroin to satisfy their desires. Of all the accidental deaths due to drug overdose in Larimer County reported last year, about 19 percent involved heroin. Most SummitStone clients are addicted to alcohol, followed by meth, marijuana and then opiates.
Larimer County is experiencing a lot of challenges in its quest to fight drug addiction. The biggest problem right now is lack of sufficient resources to effectively drive this agenda. SummitStone and other private health centers that offer mental healthcare services provide counseling and some options for outpatient treatment. Estes Park is the only facility in the county that offers detoxification and inpatient services. Sometimes these facilities are usually fully booked and patients have to wait for several weeks to receive any assistance. A lot of patients who require detox treatment end up in local hospitals with limited capabilities.
SummitStone is making arrangements to help add another detox health facility in the county. To that end, it has scheduled a ballot initiative in November. The new facility would ease the burden of the already overstretched resources in Larimer County and across the northern parts of Colorado.
Larimer County is not suffering from a unique problem. A lot of cities across the United States are dealing with this epidemic that is slowly tearing communities apart. As it struggles to find ways to reduce the number of accidental deaths as a result of overdose from prescription painkillers, it is hindered by limited resources. Some organizations like SummitStone are actively involved in finding lasting solutions but in the meantime, the problem persists.