(May 18) – Gov. John Hickenlooper this morning signed into law a bill sponsored by Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, to address Colorado’s opioid and substance abuse crisis.

SB17-193 creates a research center for substance abuse and addiction prevention strategies and treatment at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Aurora. The center will expand research programs concerning prevention, abuse, addiction and treatment for opioids, controlled substances and alcohol.

“After years of overprescribing pain pills, almost everyone knows someone who is affected by the opioid crisis and it’s past time for us to take real action,” said Rep. Pettersen. “This research center will expand our knowledge and give us the tools we need to fight the opioid epidemic throughout Colorado and keep this crisis from taking more lives.”

Other bills to address the opioid crisis that made their way to the governor’s desk include SB17-074 and HB17-1351. Sponsored by Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, SB17-074 creates a medication-assisted treatment pilot program for opioid-dependent patients in Pueblo and Routt counties, which have experienced a particularly high number of heroin overdoses. HB17-1351, sponsored by Rep. Pettersen, directs the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to study the feasibility of providing residential and inpatient substance use disorder treatment as a part of the state’s Medicaid program. Currently, the program only offers emergency treatment for four days, but does not provide treatment for patients who wish to enter recovery. Legislative Council also approved an interim committee to study broader solutions to the opioid epidemic.

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