First bill often indicates state lawmakers’ top priority

Denver Post, January 4, 2019 – State Senate President Leroy Garcia wants to rapidly expand a program that provides medical treatment to southern Coloradans battling opioid addiction, according to a draft of a bill obtained by The Denver Post.

Senate Bill 1, which usually reflects the most pressing issue for the party in power, would send $5 million to a program run by the University of Colorado that is operated in Pueblo and Routt counties. Along with the infusion of cash, the program would expand to cover the entire San Luis Valley.

In his opening-day speech, Garcia said fighting the opioid crisis in this state would be just one example of how Democrats and Republicans can work together.

“Colorado is a special place — it is a state filled with people who innovate and find solutions, and I am absolutely confident that this body will be able to find many of those solutions,” he said.

Garcia is one of numerous state lawmakers who have expressed interest in tackling the opioid epidemic. He was the sponsor of a 2017 bill that originally created the treatment program Senate Bill 1 intends to extend.

However, the issue was not among the major issues Democrats across the state ran on during the 2018 elections.

While last year’s first Senate bill went on to become a major bipartisan compromise on transportation funding, other bills with a similar distinction have been smaller in scope. In 2016, Republicans used the first bill to expand a state income tax deduction for military retirement benefits and in 2017 to ease regulations on small businesses.

Both bills were killed in the Democratic-controlled House.


In Maine, as in most other states in the U.S., patients on medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder weren’t allowed to take their life-saving medications while incarcerated.

All that changed in October of this year, when the American Civil Liberties Union settled a lawsuit with the Maine Department of Corrections. The ACLU sued on behalf of Zach Smith, who has been on Suboxone for five years as treatment for opioid use disorder. He was told he would have to stop taking Suboxone during his incarceration. I wrote of the pending case in my blog on August 12, 2018.

We know that if denied his medication, he would go through physical opioid withdrawal and would be at higher risk for overdose death, particularly immediately after release from incarceration.

The ACLU took his case and settled a lawsuit with the Maine Department of Corrections, which ultimately agreed to allow him to continue on his medication. Jailers warn that this was a “special case” and that they would not necessarily allow other prisoners to take buprenorphine as prescribed by a physician. However, this appears to be a clear precedent for other patients and other lawsuits.

I think this is a landmark case for our patients. MAT is the standard of care, and it should be illegal to refuse to provide this treatment to people who are sentenced to incarceration. The diversion of Suboxone films has been an issue for many years beause patients in opioid withdrawal can’t access suboxone through any legal channel. This creates a black market for suboxone, and jailers across the country have complained loudly about this situation – that is of their own creation.

The ACLU is supporting patients in their fight to continue medication-assisted treatments during incarceration is other states, too. According to the ACLU website, a similar case is pending in Washington state.

If you are a patient – or know a patient – who is being denied medication-assisted treatment during incarceration, I hope you have a lawyer who is willing for fight for your rights. If you do not, consider reaching out to the ACLU in your state:


Please join us November 29th for this free event.

CMC’s Albright Auditorium

Topics include:

  • Encourage sober behavior with positive communication and natural consequences for substance abuse.
  • Build self-esteem with healthy social supports, self-care, and skills to live successfully.
  • Inspire treatment with “motivational hooks” used during windows of opportunity.

Appetizers will be served. Please RSVP by November 24th.  (2 CME)



About International Overdoes Awareness Day – August 31, 2018

International Overdose Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death.

It is also an opportunity to stimulate discussion about evidence-based overdose prevention and drug policy.

International Overdose Awareness Day acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or suffered permanent injury due to drug overdose.

International Overdose Awareness Day spreads the message about the tragedy of drug overdose death and that drug overdose is preventable.

The goals of International Overdose Awareness Day are:

  • To provide an opportunity for people to publicly mourn loved ones in a safe environment, some for the first time without feeling guilt or shame.
  • To include the greatest number of people in International Overdose Awareness Day events, and encourage non-denominational involvement.
  • To give community members information about the issue of fatal and non-fatal overdose.
  • To send a strong message to current and former people who use drugs that they are valued.
  • To stimulate discussion about overdose prevention and drug policy.
  • To provide basic information on the range of support services that are available.
  • To prevent and reduce drug-related harm by supporting evidence-based policy and practice.
  • To inform people around the world about the risk of overdose.


  • County Commissioners provided approval to post easels with poster board on them on the courthouse lawn for community members to place their handprint
  • Old Town Pub chose to take a back seat on their participation due to concerns of sending the wrong message by using a liquor establishment as our base
  • Bank of the West agreed to allow us to put up flags in the lawn showing the number of lives affected nationally
  • Confirming with Kali’s Boutique to make sure we can use the full lawn space (don’t anticipate it to be an issue)
  • Secured interest from the paper as well as Steamboat Radio to cover the event pre and post; as soon as we have a confirmed location I’ll start working on the press materials
  • In communication with the schools to secure interest and the possibility of allowing students to place a handprint on poster board signifying how they’ve been impacted by overdose
  • More to come on that as we hear back
  • Steamboat Police and Fire Departments have also said they would help support during the day and we are working with them to determine exactly what that looks like
  • CMC has declined to light up the campus this year due to not enough turnaround time and ability to navigate what is needed to accomplish this

Volunteer Needs

  • – Susan Petersen is setting this up as soon as we have a confirmed location and times for the event
  • Volunteer needs will include placing flags, securing supplies, set up, breakdown and staffing throughout the day (Courthouse lawn – hopefully, and within the schools, if needed)
  • Promotion and social media posts
  • Lindsey is creating the poster to announce events during the day
  • Once the posters are complete we will need help posting them around town
  • We are working on social media posts and ask that anyone and everyone share on their person/business feeds to help get the word out
  • Please follow Grand Futures on Facebook to make sure you are seeing these posts and can re-post as appropriate
  • Lindsey is drafting all media materials to share with the radio and paper
  • Educational materials
  • Maddison and Mara have been working together to create handouts to inform people about overdose and specific drugs (e.g., opioids, Naloxone, etc.)

Questions? Contact Lindsey Simbeye

Grand Futures Prevention Coalition | Executive Director

Phone: 970-819-7805 | Email:


Please join us for an open house and learn about the latest in non-opioid pain management.  As the opioid epidemic rises locally and nationwide, our non-opioid management and recovery methods are more important than ever.

Event Details:

What: Dinner Buffet and Presentation
Where: CMC’s Allbright Auditorium
When: 5-8:00pm April 19. 2018, with speakers presenting 6-7:30pm



PPU: 03.05.18

There was a flurry of activity in Washington last week. The White House held its long anticipated Opioid Summit. Participants discussed actions already taken by the Administration. While statements were made that anyone who needs treatment should be able to access it, the tone of the event was focused on a tougher law enforcement approach. The President mentioned that perhaps drug dealers in the US should be executed.

Copyright Road to Recovery 2018. All rights reserved.