Some state lawmakers want Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado) to use his emergency powers to bail out Arapahoe House, the largest provider of addiction substance abuse treatment in the state.

The group recently announced plans to shut down permanently on January 2.

"Unfortunately, there will be people that die," said Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood.) "These are not just numbers, these are peoples' lives."

Pettersen admits the issue hits close to home. She says her mother, Stacy Pettersen, received treatment for addiction at Arapahoe House among other providers and has been sober for four months.

"Watching my mom go through it, seeing her sober for the first time in 29 years," Pettersen said. "She would not be alive today without access to treatment."

Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) and her mom (Credit: Brittany Pettersen)
Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) and her mom (Credit: Brittany Pettersen)

There's a story like this behind each number.

More than 13,000 people got help from Araphoe House each year. That's 35 people a day who'd have to look elsewhere if it closes.

Or not-- risking becoming part of a different statistic: 504 opioid deaths and climbing each year in Colorado.

Araphoe House already stopped providing detox services and thinks it can relocate its remaining live-in and outpatients to other providers.

But CEO Mike Butler says they can't keep going on while losing money on every patient they treat.

"This is a systemic problem," Butler told 9NEWS. "There will be other closings."

He says the government aid that most of his patients use would need to pay more to providers like Arapahoe House to make the system work.

Pettersen and others want a debate in the legislature about the money spent by the state to that end, but they have a shorter-term goal: asking Gov. Hickenlooper to spend state money to keep Arapahoe House open.

That would require using the same emergency power meant for fires and floods to help with the addiction crisis.

"It's not something we've ever included before but I think that the circumstances are different," Pettersen said.

The governor's office is non-committal right now and tells us it's "looking at options."