Colorado’s Heroin, Opioid Problem Gets Help From The Federal Government

By Jennifer Brice

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Colorado is set to get hundreds of thousands of dollars from the federal government to fight the heroin and the opioid epidemic. Colorado is one of 11 states to get the money because we have one of the highest rates of treatment for heroin and opioids per capita.

CBS4’s Jennifer Brice spoke with a Douglas County woman who lost her 17-year-old son to heroin.

CBS4's Jennifer Brice interviews Chris Lazarus (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Jennifer Brice interviews Chris Lazarus (credit: CBS)

“If he truly knew what heroin would have done to him, ” says Chris Lazarus. “I don’t think he would have taken it.”

Matt Lazarus got hooked on heroin in four months. In that short amount of time, Lazarus says he was gone.

“My way of dealing with Matt’s death was to try to save another parent or kid from going through what my family went through,” said Lazarus.

Matt Lazarus (credit: Chris Lazarus)

Matt Lazarus (credit: Chris Lazarus)

She created a foundation, Epic, to support the non-profit “Act on Drugs.” The foundation has an annual 5K run/walk on Sept. 18 at Butterfield Park in Castle Rock that benefits the non-profit. Registration is open now.

Act on Drugs educates families, schools and organizations about drugs and addiction. Now, more than ever, investigators like Sgt. Jim Gerhardt say there is a need. Gerhardt works with the Colorado Drug Investigators Association. He says in the beginning of his career they would work cases with very small amounts of heroin but not now.

“Now we’re doing cases where were taking pounds of heroin off the streets,” says Gerhardt. “It’s heroin at a level I’ve never seen before.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Cops blame it on prescription drug abuse. Heroin is cheaper, easier to find. Some even say the new drug culture of marijuana legalization in Colorado naturally invites heroin to our front door.

In five years, the DEA says heroin overdoses increased 350 percent in Colorado, mostly among people under 24 years old.

It’s happening to kids that you know, according to Lazarus, “I’ve seen a lot of top athletes die from heroin overdoses,” she says. “Kids you would look at and never in a million years think they were using.”

LINKS: Epic

Act on Drugs

Jennifer Brice is a reporter with CBS4 focusing on crime and courts. Follow her on Facebook or on Twitter @CBS4Jenn.

Comments

One Comment

  1. mrmX71 says:

    We need to stop the drug war w/ objective of shutting down the black market. The drug war has failed. Decriminalization/legalization is necessary, it needs to be backed up with public health announcements explaining exactly why it is needed. Its not in any way condoning the abuse of addictors, it is done bc the alternative, the drug war, has made things infinitely worse on almost every level, to include making drugs abundantly available to any & all that wants them.
    We need to pull LE out of the drug biz – that will free up a lot of resources currently chasing their collective tails. When the laws create more harm and cause more damage than they prevent, its time to change the laws. The $1 TRILLION so-called war on drugs is a massive big government failure – on nearly every single level. Its way past time to put the cartels & black market drug dealers out of business. Mass incarceration has failed. We cant even keep drugs out of a contained & controlled environment like prison.
    We need the science of addiction causation to guide prevention, treatment, recovery & public policies. Otherwise, things will inexorably just continue to worsen & no progress will be made. Addiction causation research has continued to show that some people (suffering with addiction) have a “hypo-active endogenous opioid/reward system.” This is the (real) brain disease, making addiction a symptom, not a disease itself. One disease, one pathology. Policy must be made reflecting addiction(s) as a health issue.
    The war on drugs is an apotheosis of the largest & longest war failure in history. It actually exposes our children to more harm & risk and does not protect them whatsoever. In all actuality, the war on drugs is nothing more than an international projection of a domestic psychosis. It is not the “great child protection act,” its actually the complete opposite.
    The lesson is clear: Drug laws do not stop people from harming themselves, but they do cause addicts to commit crimes and harm others. We need a new approach that decriminalizes the disease. We must protect society from the collateral damage of addiction and stop waging war on ourselves. We need common sense harm reduction approaches desperately. MAT (medication assisted treatment) and HAT (heroin assisted treatment) must be available options. Of course, MJ should not be a sched drug at all.

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