OBH Co-Hosts Opioid Safety Summit

More than 350 people attended today's Opioid Safety Summit hosted by OBH and the Colorado Hospital Association (CHA). Attendees heard personal stories of addiction to opioids, a presentation on stigma from OBH Director Robert Werthwein, fantastic results from CHA's Opioid Safety Pilot in 10 Colorado hospitals and more.

Dana Knowles, a former 9News anchor, kicked off the day by sharing her powerful personal story of opioid addiction, withdrawal and recovery. 

"Opiates provide a way for people to feel good about themselves in this crazy world," Knowles said. "They’re a very quick fix for societal ills ... It’s really important for people to know it’s not about the high."

Knowles also shared about the impact on her family, and said "If I relapse, I'm done. I have to keep moving forward."

The rest of the day included:

  • Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr., former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who shared about losing his 19-year-old son Jonathan to a heroin overdose. The Winnefeld family has started Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic (SAFE), which has six lines of operation aimed at stopping the opioid epidemic. 
  • Information on Colorado ACEP 2017 Opioid Prescribing and Treatment Guidelines. Dr. Don Stader, associate medical director with Swedish Medical Center, said that opioids are used to treat a symptom, such as a broken leg, but they create a disease.
  • OBH Director Werthwein, who discussed the dual stigma individuals with opioid use disorder face -- stigma for both abusing opioids and for receiving medication-assisted treatment. Werthwein asked everyone in attendance to write down one thing they'll do to address stigma. OBH is launching an anti-stigma campaign in spring 2018 and has several existing resources.
  • A poster session over the lunch hour featured a variety of opioid-related topics, including a poster on "The IPS Model of Supported Employment - Results in Behavioral Health and Feasibility in OUD" by OBH's Stacey Teegardin, recovery services coordinator
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Regional Administrator Charles Smith, who spoke about federal resources for combating the opioid epidemic.
  • Results from the Colorado Opioid Safety Pilot in Hospitals on reducing the use of opioids.