Arapahoe County holds town hall meeting to address opioid crisis

Opioid deaths are common in Arapahoe County - not as common as in some areas of the country - but any deaths, to these county officials, are too many.

KUSA - On the heels of President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. is in the midst of a public health emergency, Arapahoe County held a town hall to address the issue.

In 2016, 64,000 people died nationwide as a result of drug overdoses. That number exceeded the number of people ever killed in car crashes in a single year.

“Not one more child should go down this path for lack of understanding,” said Arapahoe County Commissioner Kathleen Conti.

In Arapahoe, overdose deaths have only increased since 2011 when there were 79 overdose deaths, until last year, when the 105 overdose deaths were one less than the 106 in 2015.

“Obviously we see death every day,” said Arapahoe County Coroner Dr. Kelly Lear. “It's hard to see death every day and I think a part of it is it makes us look at our own mortality, and we see people coming through our office who are just like the rest of us.”

Those 105 deaths accounted for the 600 Conti examined. In Colorado, 16 people die from overdose for every 100,000, when the national average is between 12 and 14 for every 100,000.

“I know the pain. I know the pain of not knowing where your son is at night and I know the relief of knowing he's in jail just to know he's safe,” Conti said.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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