AURORA — After two years of rising overdose deaths, Colorado's rates plateaued in 2022.
Nearly 1,800 people fatally overdosed in the state last year. That comes after nearly 1,900 deaths in 2021 — higher than any other year before the pandemic, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
Community Medical Services, an addiction treatment center in Aurora, is helping provide a safe space to people in the community who are dealing with drug addiction.
Jarred Trinkle is in the middle of his treatment but says he wanted to share his story to give others hope and let them know they're not alone.
"I started first, I think, with alcohol, like the end of middle school, the beginning of high school," said Trinkle, who began experimenting with drugs when he was roughly 13-years-old.
It continued into high school and through his time in the United States Air Force.
"When I was in the military, I was dealing with a lot of depression," Trinkle said. "I didn't know what to do. I didn't know if there was a way out."
Trinkle reached a breaking point when the military brought him in to question him about his drug use.
"I just remember breaking down and crying," he recalled. "I was like, 'I need help.'"
Trinkle says he's in been in and out of different rehab facilities for several years. Now, he's finding comfort in his journey to sobriety at Community Medical Services.
"They don't make me feel like shamed or embarrassed," he said. "A lot of these people that work here, they've all been there and they understand."
Marquitta Brown is a therapist at the clinic who struggled with addiction years ago and is now helping guide others.
"Somebody helped me. I struggled for many, many years with the crack addiction," she said.
Brown says drug addiction can impact anyone.
"Whether it was because they had some surgery or have pain issues, whether it's because they got trauma, they're dealing with mental health issues. Recovery really is a whole thing — mentally, emotionally, spiritually — and I think that we provide a piece of that," she said.
Trinkle says he knows the road to recovery is not a linear one.
"I might have some, some tough times ahead," he added.
But he's working to find his own path and hoping to let others know they're not alone.
"I have my faith that I bring with me always. I got the people here at CMS, and I know that I'll have them to fall back on as well," Trinkle said.
"He's a very humble young man. He really is committed to his sobriety, and focused on getting his life together," added Brown.