Many of us have known friends or family members who struggled with opioid addiction. Some received treatment and recovered. However, for far too many, the results can be tragic.
In Jefferson County alone, drug-related overdose deaths increased 59 percent from 2019 to 2020, according to Jeffco Public Health. During the same time, hospital admissions for drug-related overdoses reached nearly 900. Opioids also are appearing in most drug-related investigations and deputies in our county jail are administering Narcan nearly every week, according to Sheriff Shrader.
The good news: there is hope as Colorado stands to receive more than $400 million in opioid settlement dollars. I recently joined Attorney General Phil Weiser and local government leaders to unveil a first-of-its-kind framework for distributing those dollars – a framework we worked diligently to develop over the last 18 months.
Our efforts reflect input across rural, urban, and suburban communities to maximize opioid settlement funds to combat the epidemic. We also built-in accountability and transparency so we know whether we’re getting the intended results for those who need the help the most.
Our region – which is made up of Jeffco, Gilpin, and Clear Creek counties – is expected to receive approximately $1.3 million annually over 18 years for opioid prevention, recovery, and treatment. In addition, the three counties and their municipalities will receive direct funding from the settlement.
A regional council who may include leaders representing local government, public health, human services, law enforcement, the courts, and others will develop a two-year plan for allocation of the regional dollars.
A heartfelt thank you to AG Weiser; Heidi Williams, the AG’s Director of Opioid Response; John Swartout and Kyley Burress of Colorado Counties Inc.; the Colorado Municipal League; and attorneys from Jeffco, Arapahoe County, Denver, and others who were a critical part of these negotiations.
Special gratitude to my fellow commissioners with whom I served on the working group – as well as former Westminster Mayor Herb Atchison and leaders from our Jefferson County Attorney's Office - Kym Sorrells and Eric Butler. We’re also profoundly grateful for the work of Jeffco Public Health and other public health leaders across the state who have been on the front lines of the opioid epidemic.
Colorado is leading the way thanks to this collaborative effort! Learn more on the Colorado Attorney General website.
As always, if you have questions or ideas, please feel free to contact me on my cell at 303-638-3433 or via email. Thank you for all you do for our county!
All my best,
To learn more about the Jefferson County Commissioners, visit our website.