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Colorado Attorney General to host town hall on opioid crisis

Pandemic perpetuates opioid crisis
Posted at 10:46 PM, May 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 00:47:00-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Attorney General Phil Weiser will be in Colorado Springs on Monday, May 17 to discuss his response to the opioid crisis at a town hall.

According to a press release, the attorney general is expected to provide an update on his office’s actions to combat the opioid epidemic, including a proposal to disburse settlement funds to local government, and next steps for the El Paso County and Teller County region.

In February, Colorado partnered up with 47 other states to secure a $573 million settlement with one of the world's largest consulting firms, McKinsey & Company, which was involved in the promotion of prescription drugs.

As a part of the settlement, the company recognized the harm its conduct caused and this agreement is the first multi-state opioid settlement to result in substantial payment to the states to address the epidemic.

Colorado was set to get millions of dollars from the settlement, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and people working to end this crisis said this was a big deal, but just the beginning of this fight.

"These dollars can help grassroots organizations like Southern Colorado Harm Reduction to be able to expand the supports that we have in place to get people to these larger agencies," said Judy Solano of the SoCo Harm Reduction Association

Here in Colorado, the opioid epidemic has led to some major heartache during the last 20 years.

  • During this time, nearly 5,000 Coloradans have died from a prescription opioid overdose.
  • The rate of annual prescription overdose deaths also rose nearly 400%.
  • On an economic level, deaths and addiction have created considerable costs to the state in the form of health care, child welfare, and criminal justice to battle the crisis.

While people involved say this is a big victory, the experts helping people on the ground say the addiction dangers during the pandemic have escalated.

"Unfortunately these funds aren't going to be enough. We have so much damage we have to address, but this is a start of what needs to be a continuing sustained effort to repair lives and to help rebuild communities that have been devastated by this crisis," said Weiser.

In February, Solano said there was still approximately $27 billion in litigation that she hopes will be sent throughout the country to help solve the crisis.

Pueblo County Commissioner Garrison Otiz said Pueblo County could receive $800,000 per year over the next 18 years.

"People need to understand that this affects everyone and it is going to require a really comprehensive approach to address, to ensure that we can help stop this loss in our community," Ortiz said.

The money in Pueblo County would go toward opioid awareness efforts like education and treatment programs.

Resources and contacts:

Get assistance in Pueblo from the folks at SoCo Harm Reduction Association here.

Springs Recovery Connection is always looking for volunteers to help. CLICK HERE to learn more about how you can help.

If you or anyone you know is struggling and needs some help, call Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or text "TALK" to 38255.

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