PUEBLO – Friday was International Overdose Awareness Day. It’s a time for people around the world to remember those who have died or had a permanent injury from an overdose.
It’s an epidemic that continues to plague southern Colorado. On Friday in the Steel City, four different organizations came together at the Riverwalk to hold a memorial. The groups were also ready to answer any questions and give resources to help those who might need it. It was the first large-scale event Pueblo has done for Overdose Awareness Day and it certainly won’t be the last.
Judy Solano, a registered nurse and executive director of the Southern Colorado Harm Reduction Association, said, “What we’re trying to do is put a face to the people that we lose.”
The event was Pueblo’s first ofrenda, or offering, where people were paying tribute to all those impacted by opioid overdoses. Solano said it’s the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.
Laura Lisonbee, a peer recovery coach, said, “I’ve lost many friends and particularly…exactly one year ago I lost a longtime childhood friend…just had a long-term addiction to heroin, an IV user.”
Lisonbee was once an opioid addict herself. She’s now fighting for those she’s lost and for those still struggling today.
“It can kill you and eventually will. I mean, it destroys lives.”
Solano said, “We want to have people understand the crisis that we are in.”
She said addiction knows no bounds.
“You’ll see letters from parents who are expressing the loss of their children and you’ll see loved ones expressing the loss of spouses, parents, everybody.”
The reality is that addiction can touch anyone in one way or another.
“Crime goes up, resources are dwindled, and you’re also having a community that struggles to be productive.”
For Solano and others, the race is on to reach people.
Lisonbee said, “Just making them aware of how high the overdose rate is and that there is a high percentage of opiate use here in Pueblo and southern Colorado.”
The hope is that one day they’ll put an end to this devastating and deadly epidemic.
Peer Coach Academy Colorado, Crossroads’ Turning Points, Young People In Recovery, and the Southern Colorado Harm Reduction Association were all represented at Friday’s event. Each group is available to help those who need it or for those who would like to volunteer.
CLICK HERE for Peer Coach Academy Colorado.
CLICK HERE for Crossroads’ Turning Points
CLICK HERE for Young People In Recovery
CLICK HERE for Southern Colorado Harm Reduction Association
If you are in an emergency situation dial 911.