Dr. Jesse Hinckley, Dr. Kelly Lear, Lt. Steve Rolen and Deputy Melissa Williams from the Arapahoe County Sherriff’s department
BY SCOTTIE IVERSON
Most of the presentations and statistics presented to Cherry Creek Republican Women (CCRW) were about marijuana, sometimes called the gateway drug, but there was plenty of other interesting information shared about the increasing epidemic of illegal and prescribed drugs and how we can prevent becoming another Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The four speakers included Dr. Jesse Hinckley, a third-year resident in the general psychiatry residency at the University of Colorado where he earned both his M.D. and Ph.D. He will join the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellowship at Children’s Hospital Colorado in July. Following that fellowship, he plans to complete an Addiction fellowship making him one of approximately 100-150 triple board-certified adolescent psychiatrists in the U.S. and second in Colorado.
According to Hinckley, it takes four weeks to wash marijuana out of the system. Of kids treated for substance abuse, cannabis is No. 1 followed by alcoholism. Especially for young men, marijuana is more popular than cigarettes and has unintentional exposure – to dogs, for instance. And, it messes with the brain. Many take someone else’s medical marijuana. There is no evidence to support that it helps with mental illness and some who move here to obtain it wind up in psych hospitals.
CCRW members – Katy Brown, who serves on Cherry Hills Village City Council and Cherry Creek School Board’s Karen Fisher.
“We are at the very beginning of studies. It took decades of alcohol and tobacco research to know what they did to the body,” he said. Opioid addition is also an epidemic. When deaths were from more well-known in the community and not just the underserved, it was noticed and the death rate surpassed Aids. The economic cost was a staggering $78.5 billion. Arapahoe County Coroner Dr. Kelly Lear is a forensic pathologist with significant training and experience in medicolegal autopsies and death investigations. Currently her workload is that of two people. There are 500 forensic pathologists nationwide and 700 are needed. Nationally, drug abuse deaths peaked in 2016 with 65,000 while motor vehicle deaths were 54,000. Deaths from breast cancer were 40,000. Arapahoe County drug abuse deaths peaked in 2009.
The county is also seeing an increase of heroin use because, sadly, it is cheaper than prescription drugs. Both Hinckley and law enforcement felt there should be more access to NARCAN, a lifesaving medicine that can reduce the effect of an opioid overdose. Lt. Steve Rolen stated that the opioid crisis is not necessarily pill related. No. 1 is meth, No. 2 is cocaine and No. 3 is heroin.
The enforcement efforts in Arapahoe County are led by a team of 10. He was an RN before law enforcement, and feels part of the situation might have begun in health care – what is your pain level is asked frequently and addressed with meds. Anything to alleviate pain. What about alternatives like moving the body or proper nutrition? (I recently heard a radio interview stating a little pain is good – shows you are alive.)
Deputy Melissa Williams coordinates the crisis intervention team. She finds many patients don’t like side effects and self medicate while some intentionally overdose and reports there are six to 10 NARCAN distributions per year. She also works with first responders. “We forget we have feelings about things,” she said. Some responders get injured and become addicted, too.
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