By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – A mother whose son died of a drug overdose is pleading with lawmakers to pass a bill that she says could have saved his life.

Linda Hughes (credit: CBS)

Charlie Hughes died just five weeks ago.

(credit: Linda Hughes)

“In the quiet of the night or when I’m sitting down thinking, I’m just overwhelmed by the concept that he’s gone forever. That he’s not going to walk in the door. I’m not going to hear him on the phone. He’s not going to play another song, and that the future we all talked about, and that he planned, is gone. It’s done,” said Linda Hughes.

She says her son’s addiction started three years ago with a three month supply of opioids after surgery.

(credit: CBS)

“Then started the nightmare of our lives because we could not get him help. We combed the internet and we called. We went through all the motions. We could never do enough to find the resources to help him, and it was not that he was unwilling,” she said.

Hughes says her son went to the emergency department 10 times.

Sen. Cheri Jahn says in most cases, emergency departments will discharge a person with substance abuse or mental illness within 45-72 hours.

(credit: CBS)

“They only have to stablize them, and there’s never any help and then they kick them back out to the curb. There’s such a stigma out there on what addiction is, what mental health is, and we’re starting to finally break that ice,” Jahn said.

Jahn and Sen. Tim Neville introduced this bill aimed at bridging a critical gap in services by connecting those who end up in emergency departments because of mental illness or substance abuse with treatment teams who can help them.

“Otherwise we keep recycling people back into society and people that are possibly not ready to handle the situation,” said Neville.

(credit: CBS)

Charlie Hughes among them. His mom says she doesn’t want him to be remembered only for how he died.

“My son was more than a drug addict. He was a beautiful, sensitive, compassionate, funny as-all-get-out, talented young man that had a future. I love Charlie forever.”

The bill is part of a package of bills that are aimed at combating opioid addiction.

Two of those bills – including one that would require Medicaid to cover in-patient treatment – appear to be headed to the governor’s desk. They passed the House and received initial approval in the Senate.

Hughes has set up two websites to help with addiction resources and remembering those who’ve been lost to addiction.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.