Community Insights: LPCPHD

June 3, 2024

The La Plata County Public Health Department’s Harm Reduction program is actively addressing the opioid crisis by providing life-saving tools, such as Narcan and fentanyl testing strips, and creating a non-judgmental space for people struggling with substance use. The program offers essential support, including sterile supplies and education, to reduce infectious diseases and overdose deaths. The Harm Reduction program highlights the importance of meeting people where they are in their substance use journey and emphasizes the protective Good Samaritan law, which encourages people to seek help without fear of criminal charges. The program's efforts significantly increase the likelihood of individuals accessing treatment and reducing substance use. By Sadie Smith. This story is sponsored by Alpine Bank.

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- Hi, I'm Eric Eicher, an employee-owner and president of Alpine Bank in Durango. At Alpine Bank we believe in the power of community and connecting you with the resources you need to work, live, and play in our community. I hope you enjoy this edition of "Community Insights."- [Sadie] With overdose deaths on the rise, harm reduction initiatives are stepping up to meet the challenge. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug-related deaths rose from 70,630 in 2019 to 107,941 in 2022. Harm reduction programs such as the one associated with La Plata County Public Health Department are stepping up to provide lifesaving tools in an unprejudiced space for people struggling with substance use.- Harm reduction, in a broader sense, is any precaution taken to reduce harm or consequences related to an action. So we see, in a broader sense, harm reduction could be wearing a seatbelt in a vehicle, it could be wearing helmets on a motorcycle. My program, specifically, our focus is reducing harm related to substance use.- To combat substance use, LPC PhD offers education, Narcan, fentanyl testing strips, as well as sterile supplies to help reduce infectious diseases and deaths associated with drug use.- [Sierra] People have used drugs and will continue to use drugs, and we're just here to make sure that people are as safe as possible because people can't recover if they're dead.- The stigma surrounding substance use has made asking for help, an uncomfortable conversation for people struggling with drug use. LPC PhD's Harm Reduction Program offers non-judgmental support to those seeking help.- The harm reduction approaches to meet people where they're at, and this can mean where they're at in their substance use journey. A lot of times we might be meeting someone who might be unhoused, who's living in a tent, and so just meeting someone and treating them like a human.- Harm reduction programs have been fighting the stigma that these programs are enabling those who struggle with substance use. However, it has been proven that these types of programs significantly increase the possibility of recovery.- It's been proven that people who are involved in harm reduction services are five times more likely to access treatment options and three times more likely to stop using altogether.- [Sadie] Narcan is used to reverse the effects of an overdose. It is often carried by police officers and medical professionals. LPC PhD's Harm Reduction Program also offers Narcan for the general public.- So Narcan is the brand name of the medication, Naloxone. It is an opioid antagonist, which means that it reverses the effect of an opioid overdose. In the brain, we have opioid receptors, and when you use opioids, they connect to the opioid receptors. When you're overdosing, it overloads the opioid receptors in the brain. And what Naloxone or Narcan does is it comes and it caps those opioid receptors for 30 to 90 minutes and it will reverse the effects. So you're gonna start breathing again, you might wake back up. There's a Good Samaritan law which protects you, even if you and your friend are using a substance and your friend overdoses, you can call 911, and you're not gonna be criminally charged.- It is important to remember that you will not be charged for drug use or possession if you call for help for an overdose for yourself or for someone else. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, the Public Health Department Harm Reduction Program has resources available online or by visiting them. We're proud to present "Community Insights," powered by the "Local News Network" and sponsored by Alpine Bank. With "Community Insights," our mission is to foster a stronger and more connected community in La Plata County and beyond. For more information about this and other stories, visit Thank you for watching this edition of "Community Insights." I'm Sadie Smith.


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