febrero 26, 2024

Fighting the Next Wave of Colorado’s Drug Crisis

Fighting the Next Wave of Colorado’s Drug Crisis Combatiendo las drogas ilícitas en Colorado

Remember – only use medications provided by a trusted pharmacist| A single fake pill can kill. (Picture/DEA)

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Before I was an elected official, I served Adams County families as a pediatrician for a decade. As a doctor, I saw firsthand how the drug crisis is devastating families in Colorado.

Drug overdoses are a leading cause of death for adults ages 18 to 45, and the trend line is heading in the wrong direction. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that over 110,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses in 2022, almost 70 percent of which were caused by fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. In Colorado, there is a fatal drug overdose every four hours and forty-five minutes.

These are distressing statistics. And each number represents a heartbreaking story of a family devastated by an overdose. As your Congresswoman, a top priority of mine is the safety and wellbeing of Colorado families. That’s why I’m writing to share some important things your family should know about the drug crisis, and to update you on what I’m doing in Congress to protect our community. 

What’s Driving the Drug Crisis?

More potent drugs are becoming increasingly accessible across Colorado. At the forefront of this crisis is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. While fentanyl can be prescribed for pain management, it is also produced and used illegally, often with deadly results. Just 2 milligrams – the amount that fits on the tip of a pencil – can be fatal. 

As fentanyl’s prevalence in Colorado grows, it’s more common to find lethal doses mixed into counterfeit versions of other drugs like Xanax, Oxycodone, and Adderall. Shockingly, the Drug Enforcement Administration reports that 6 out of every 10 fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills contain a deadly dose of fentanyl.

It is important to know that fentanyl can be mixed into all drugs, even fake pills made to resemble prescription medications. As these photos show, it is sometimes impossible to distinguish between a real prescription pill and a fentanyl-laced fake one. This leads to tragic outcomes, particularly for young adults and children. 

Combatiendo las drogas ilícitas en Colorado

Remember – only use medications provided by a trusted pharmacist| A single fake pill can kill. (Picture/DEA)

What’s Congress doing to help?

After talking with families in our District and hearing the heartbreaking toll this crisis has taken on our community, I’m committed to use my position in Congress to bring an end to it. Here are a few steps I’ve taken so far.

Just this month I introduced the Curbing Illicit Drug Threats Act (link to press release), a bipartisan bill that studies the effectiveness of our current illicit drug surveillance systems and recommends ways to improve communication and data collection. This research will significantly strengthen law enforcement’s ability to combat the spread of illicit drugs.

Earlier this year, I was proud to introduce my very first bill – H.R. 1734, the TRANQ Research Act. This bipartisan bill directs more research into existing and emerging illicit synthetic opioids, helping us head off the next wave of the drug crisis. I’m proud to announce that it passed the House unanimously, underscoring that ending the drug crisis is a bipartisan issue where real progress is possible. 

Additionally, I worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to press Secretary of State Antony Blinken on taking aggressive diplomatic action against Chinese-origin chemicals used in fentanyl production. A staggering 97 percent of fentanyl in the United States is manufactured with these chemicals, so halting their flow into the Western Hemisphere must be a top priority.  

These are just a few examples of my work to combat the drug crisis and keep Colorado families safe. Together, we can make progress in the fight against illicit drug dealers, save lives, and build a better future for young Coloradans. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction, you can contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 or reach out to my office for additional resources.

SAMHSA National Helpline

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