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  • Writer's pictureDr. Clifford Brown

Our community can and must rise to meet the growing threat of fentanyl, which has caused a surge in overdoses




Chaffee, Custer, Fremont, and Park counties collaborate on an awareness campaign to dispel stigma and promote recovery from addiction while reducing the tragic toll of fentanyl and other opioids

“Recovery starts when stigma ends.”

That’s the message of a new local public awareness campaign created to dispel stigma around addiction, including opioid use disorder, and to inspire the community to rise together to meet the challenge of this devastating epidemic.

The bilingual campaign, a collaborative effort of Chaffee, Custer, Fremont, and Park counties, directs the community to information and resources available at EndStigmaStartRecovery.org and ParaElEstigma.org.

The campaign notes that one in six Americans has a substance use disorder. It states: “Whatever the substance, these are our neighbors, friends, and family members. They deserve compassion, support, and evidence-based treatment to recover and thrive. We all can play an important role.”

The campaign features original portraits of four Coloradans who are in recovery from substance use disorder. Their nuanced portraits and the words they chose to describe themselves – dad, mother, grandfather, son, adventurer, advocate, runner, community member – illustrate their multifaceted identities.

The campaign uses digital ads, billboards, posters, drink coasters, and pocket cards to spread the word around the region.

The four counties are organized as the Region 15 Opioid Abatement Council, one of 19 regions established by the Colorado Department of Law to distribute opioid settlement funds for substance use disorder treatment, recovery, harm reduction, law enforcement, and prevention/education programs.

The Colorado Department of Law has sued pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors and is on track to receive over $750 million in opioid settlement funds.

“Many people unintentionally became addicted to opioids, which were aggressively and misleadingly marketed by drug companies,” said Andrea Carlstrom, director of Chaffee County Public Health. “People with opioid use disorder or other types of substance use disorder need support and evidence-based treatment to recover and thrive. This campaign aims to inspire more people to start their recovery journey.”

 

“Our community can and must rise to meet the growing threat of fentanyl, which has caused a surge in overdoses,” said Patrick Fiore, substance abuse coordinator with the Custer County Public Health Agency. “Effective treatment for opioid use disorder requires that we prevent overdoses. That means making naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan, widely available, learning how to use it, and keeping it nearby.”

 

“Openly and candidly discussing these issues with friends and loved ones is an essential step toward recovery,” said Paula Buser, director of Fremont County Public Health and Environment. “This campaign is designed to spark those discussions across our community and among local families.”

“People recover from addiction, going on to live long, healthy, and rewarding lives,” said Lynn Ramey, director of the Park County Public Health Agency. “Recovering from an opioid use disorder or dependence on another substance requires more than just willpower. Evidence-based treatment works.”

The campaign was created by SE2, a Colorado-based behavior change marketing agency. The portraits were drawn for SE2 by Javier Robles, a Colorado illustrator.

“We’re grateful for the vision of these health leaders at the four counties and for the courage of the local folks in recovery who agreed to be featured in the campaign,” said SE2 Co-Founder Eric Anderson. “Our team has been touched personally by this issue and we’re honored to be able to highlight how we all have a role to play in addressing it.”

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