Substance Use Services
Why We Care
Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) recognizes that substance use is a public health issue and that all individuals who use drugs deserve to have access to the resources and support they need to achieve optimal health and well-being. Additionally, JCPH recognizes that people who use drugs (PWUD) often face health disparities. These can include substance use disorders, overdose and acquisition of HIV, Hepatitis C and soft tissues wounds. Our mission is to promote and protect health for all people, including PWUD, across the lifespan through prevention, education, treatment, response and regulation.
We are committed to:
- Providing education and resources to prevent drug overdose.
- Combating the stigma associated with substance use.
- Supporting PWUD by providing access to compassionate, stigma free and evidence-based harm reduction, overdose prevention and recovery services.
- Collecting and analyzing data on substance use and related public health issues to inform policy and program development.
- Collaborating with community partners to implement comprehensive strategies that address the social determinants of substance use.
- Advocating for policies and practices that support evidence-based overdose prevention, harm reduction and recovery efforts.
HIV, Hepatitis C and Soft Tissue Infections
People who use substances face significantly higher rates of HIV, Hepatitis C (Hep C) and soft tissue infections due to several factors:
- Sharing syringes and other injection equipment can result in transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C.
- Sharing equipment used to snort or smoke certain substances may also result in Hepatitis C.
- Substance use can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections from pathogens such as HIV and Hepatitis C.
- People who inject drugs are disproportionally impacted by soft tissue wounds and infections due to the times they pierce their skin. Left untreated, these wounds can cause cellulitis, sepsis and gangrene.
Addressing substance use is critical in preventing these viruses and infections. Providing harm reduction services is a proven way to reduce these and other potential harms that can come from drug use. Syringe service programs, like Points West [external link] at JCPH, offer tools and education that can protect health through safer use practices. Additionally, increasing access to stigma-free treatment and recovery services is another way to promote health and reduce HIV and Hepatitis C.
When a person consumes more of a substance than their body can handle, sometimes overdose (OD) occurs. This is particularly true for opioids such as prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl, which reduce respiration until it stops and eventually causes death. Additionally, periods of reduced drug use or abstinence, using drugs alone, mixing different drugs, the increasing potency of street drugs and other factors contribute to drug overdose. Other substances, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines and stimulants, can also cause overdose. Though opioids have caused the greatest increase in overdose over the years, stimulant overdose is also on the rise.
In 2021, the number of overdose deaths from any drug in Jefferson County exceeded 190 of our loved ones, friends, neighbors and coworkers. Research released by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) [external link] show that at least 1,881 Coloradans died of drug OD in 2021 – the most overdose deaths ever recorded in the state and a 27% increase from 2020.
The increase in opioid overdose deaths is associated with the increase in fentanyl in the drug supply, which is a powerful synthetic (or lab-made) opioid and is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl has been increasingly found in counterfeit prescription narcotics, heroin, methamphetamine, MDMA (or molly) and cocaine. In 2021, overdoses involving fentanyl made up around 48% of all opioid-related deaths which has led to significant health disparities for people who use drugs and our communities.
How JCPH is Responding to Substance Use and Overdose
JCPH is committed to working with the community and our partners to respond to substance use and drug overdose. Utilizing a combination of direct services to the community, systems-level collaboration and policy leadership, JCPH continues to evolve its services and interventions to best meet the needs of those who live, work and play in our county. While we focus heavily on opioid services, we are here to help everyone who uses drugs. Explore Jefferson County Public Health programs below for helpful strategies, information and tools for substance use prevention, harm reduction and recovery.
- Points West Syringe Access Program [external link]: JCPH’s Points West Syringe Access Program (SAP) is a safe, anonymous, confidential and stigma-free space offering harm reduction services to individuals at no cost. Points West aims to reduce potential harms associated with drug use in a respectful and warm manner while offering people a variety of tools and education that can help them be in control of their health. Examples of services that Points West provides include harm reduction supplies including naloxone (also known as Narcan), education, community outreach, HIV and Hepatitis C testing, referrals to resources (i.e. case management, housing, food, etc.) and more.
- Bridge Clinic: JCPH’s Bridge Clinic is a low barrier, harm-reduction, and non-abstinence based clinic for the treatment of opioid use disorder with suboxone and naltrexone. It is designed to be a short-term program (initiation to maintenance) that “bridges” patients to long-term care with community providers.
- Jefferson County Substance Use Partnership [external link]: The JCSUP is a multi-sector, “collective impact” coalition focused on facilitation collaboration to improve the health and wellbeing of people who use drugs, those in recovery and their communities. The coalition focuses on OD prevention, increasing access to treatment, improving county data capacity and providing substance use education to community members and stakeholders across the county.
- Lakewood Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Pilot Program [external link]: The LEAD pilot program is a collaboration between Lakewood Police, the Community Connection Center and JCPH. This innovative pilot program focuses on diverting participants who have allegedly committed low-level offenses away from the criminal justice system using comprehensive case management, offering mental health/substance use resources and contingency management interventions to improve outcomes for people who use drugs and live with mental health conditions who otherwise would likely enter the criminal justice system and not receive appropriate services.
Resources for Health Care Providers
- CDPHE Opioid Overdose Prevention [external link]
- CDC Training for Prescribers [external link]
- CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain [external link]
- CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain [PDF] [external link]
- Resources for Opioid Treatment Providers [external link]
- Medications for Substance Use Disorders [external link]
Resources for the Public
- Points West Syringe Service Program [external link]
- List of All Colorado Syringe Access Programs [external link]
- Bring Naloxone Home [external link]
- Substance Use Treatment Locator [external link]
- Next Distro (Harm Reduction Education) [external link]
- Harm Reduction 101 – Harm Reduction Coalition [external link]
- Overdose Prevention Hotline [external link] or call 1-800-484-3731
- Crisis Service Hotline [external link] or call 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255
- Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention [external link]
- Take Meds Seriously: Disposal Options [external link]
- FDA What to Ask Your Doctor Before Taking Opioids [external link]
- Prescription Opioids: What You Need to Know [PDF]
- CDC What You Can Do to Prevent Opioid Misuse [external link]
- CDC Rx Awareness Campaign [external link]