By Kayla Kaufman
Some people might assume the Roaring Fork Valley is immune to issues such as drug abuse. Unfortunately, that is not the reality. Many in the Valley consume illicit substances and many of these substances are more and more commonly mixed with the pharmaceutical fentanyl.
This increasingly prevalent drug often carries deadly consequences. While it is regulated for medical use, drug traffickers also use the pharmaceutical to mix with other illegal drugs. What’s scary is that people who purchase one illegal substance are not aware that what they received may also include fentanyl. And, when people purchase other drugs, it is impossible to tell with the naked eye whether their purchase is tainted with the deadly substance.
Fentanyl is extremely dangerous because of its potency. “It is 50-times stronger than heroin and 100-times stronger than morphine,” Maggie Seldeen of High Rockies Harm Reduction told The Sopris Sun.
Today, fentanyl is causing many overdoses and can end in death faster than other opioids. Seldeen further explained that it “crosses the blood-brain barrier faster,” meaning that it attaches to the brain receptors faster after entering the bloodstream. It can also dismantle the brain’s ability to process oxygen and carbon dioxide.
When it comes to opioid addiction, often the people struggling with addiction are blamed, but some would argue it’s important to point out other factors. For instance, it’s common for someone to get addicted to an opioid when it is prescribed by a doctor, but once a prescription expires many seek out these opioids illegally.
“Fentanyl is only one part of the puzzle,” explained Seldeen, and went on to say that educating the local community is of utmost importance.
While this topic may be very alarming to some, many resources are in place to keep communities safe and protected. HRHR is but one “ resource available in the Roaring Fork Valley which was founded by Seldeen. HRHR not only educates people about the dangers of drug use, but also distributes potentially life saving antidotes such as naloxone which can reverse the effects of an overdose if given within a certain period of time. Notably, HRHR also distributes fentanyl testing strips.
Seldeen has presented to Roaring Fork High School health classes, providing insight about fentanyl, naloxone and the general dangers of drug use. Before, many of the students may not have been aware of the presence of this deathly additive.
The organization provides education to schools and other institutions, but also works directly with people struggling with substance abuse. . HRHR’s website contains more information about its resources, events and other services it provides. So, visit www.highrockiesharmreduction.com for more about the nonprofit.
Another local group, Aperture of Hope (AOP), was started by Cath Adams who sadly lost her daughter, Emily Irene Adams, to fentanyl poisoning. Among other community work, AOP works with schools to educate young people about the threat of fentanyl.
According to the organization’s website, www.apertureofhope.com, in regards to education, “We share our message and create awareness for schools and other organizations. Fentanyl is taking the lives of teens as this may be their first introduction to illicit drugs.” Making the point that sometimes a young person’s first time experimenting can end tragically. “You don’t have to have the disease of addiction to die from fentanyl poisoning.”