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Health and business leaders hold symposium over opioid abuse

Posted: 7:07 PM, May 24, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-24 21:07:54-04

A coalition to confront opioid addiction in the Pikes Peak region is growing. Health professionals met with business leaders Thursday talk about the addiction crisis and how they can join the fight.

The Opioid Crisis Symposium held at the Pinery at the Hill was put together by the Community Health Partnership, Pyxant Labs and the Colorado Springs Business Journal.

The conversation covered everything from issues related to identifying and helping employees who might be struggling with substance abuse to training staff to give life-saving Narcan treatments.

"It is a crisis around the country, everybody is talking about it," said Jean Pineault, President, and CEO of Pyxant.

He believes educating people about opioid abuse can empower them to take better preventative measures, regardless of the situation.

"People, sometimes when they don’t know, they’re fearful. And so what we’re doing is where bringing more knowledge and that’s the primary reason why we brought our guest speaker Dr. Wright is because he will bring more knowledge."

Andrew Romanoff, CEO of Mental Health Colorado, was one of the eight panelists to take part in the discussion. He explained that many people who struggle with substance abuse often have an underlying mental health issue.

"A lot of folks whose mental illness goes untreated end up medicating themselves with drugs or alcohol. So, now they end up with a couple problems, they’ve got a mental illness and they’ve got a substance abuse disorder and in many cases, they may not show up for work."

Not showing up to work leads to financial problems which just speeds up the downward spiral.

"There’s a whole chain of consequences that flow from our failure to identify and diagnose and treat mental illness up front," Romanoff said.
He and the other panelists hope to break that cycle by changing public attitudes and opinions towards substance abuse.  Changing attitudes requires changing the way we talk about addiction.