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Overdose and addiction in the Grand Valley’s homeless community

According to Homeward Bound of the Grand Valley, a shelter serving the area’s homeless community, those with limited access to resources and treatment options are especially vulnerable
Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 8:25 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics in November that showed an over 28 percent increase nationally in drug overdose deaths during the pandemic. According to Homeward Bound of the Grand Valley, a shelter serving the area’s homeless community, those with limited access to resources and treatment options are especially vulnerable.

Greg Moore, Executive Director of Homeward Bound, explained that the pandemic made challenges the homeless face, including addiction and substance abuse, even more difficulty to manage. “There’s been a significant impact. Services have been harder to access. On our side, we were fortunate to be able to open the Pathways Family Health Center, so we have an integrated a medical an behavioral health care clinic right on site,” said Moore.

Dr. Sara Polley of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation elaborated that another factor at play is the presence of dangerous substances like fentanyl in illegal drugs, which can often lead to serious consequences for users. “Specifically fentanyl is something that we’re seeing a lot now, both in Colorado and nationally, where our patients don’t know that the substances they’re using contain fentanyl, and so they’re accidentally overdosing and dying.”

According to Moore, there are often more options for those struggling with insurance and other resources than those without. “It’s something that affects the entire community, and will take the entire community working together to achieve workable solutions and pathways for people who are stuck in that hopeless cycle to get out.”

From 2020 to 2021, over 1,600 people in Colorado died secondary to overdoses in the State of Colorado, which Dr. Polley described as a significant increase — about 40 percent higher than previous years.

For more information on addiction services available in Colorado through the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, click here. For more on Homeward Bound of the Grand Valley’s resources available for the homeless, click here.

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