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County focuses on drug abuse education and prevention

China White heroin, which has a higher potency than typical heroin, is known to be in Cortez.
Awareness campaign includes community presentation, education web page

To address the problem of drug abuse, Montezuma County has added a website page with prevention resources, and the Sheriff’s Office will host a community presentation on the illegal drug trade in the area.

The presentation titled “The Criminal Groups and the Drugs They Bring into Our Communities” will take place on July 28, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Montezuma-Cortez High School auditorium.

The event is for parents, guardians school staff and residents over age 18, Nowlin said.

The increasing amount of dangerous drugs in the community and the manufacturing and trafficking trade that distributes them to the region will be explained.

Illegal manufactured fentanyl pills, shown here, are potent opioid drugs that can lead to addiction and overdose. The drug is sometimes used in counterfeit oxycodone pills sold on the black market. (File photo)

The community is also urged to check out a new county webpages on drug education and prevention, said Montezuma County Administrator Shak Powers.

The page provides information on types of drugs, prevention resources and drug education curriculum guides for elementary, middle school and high school students.

It also includes information on the misuse of prescription drugs, drug types and fact cards, trends, publications and website links. Information is derived from a variety of sources, including the Drug Enforcement Agency and National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The increasing issue of drug abuse and drug-related problems in the community led county staff to create the new education and prevention webpage, Powers said. A webpage with information on mental and behavioral health resources also was added.

“We want the community to know that if you, or someone you know is struggling with drugs or mental health issues, visit our website for good information and resources,” Powers said.

County officials and emergency responders are looking for solutions to mental health issues, substance abuse, homelessness and domestic conflicts that persist in the community.

A proposed new Community Intervention Program seeks to dispatch an EMT and a trained mental health care worker to certain 911 situations in the county when a person is in a crisis and needs assistance.

A recent report released by the county highlights a growing problem of drug and alcohol abuse, and social and mental health problems in the community.

There were 11 suicides last year in the county, up from seven in 2019. Drug overdoses occurred 68 times in 2020, up from 39 in 2019. There were 192 domestic violence cases in 2020, up from 167 in 2019 and 140 in 2018.

Southwest Memorial Hospital admitted 393 alcohol-related patients in 2020, up from 341 in 2019. There were 36 opioid-related admissions in 2020, compared with 15 the year before.

Marijuana-related admissions jumped from 1 in 2018 to 17 in 2020.

Correction: The number of suicides for 2019 and 2020 in Montezuma County has been corrected.