Overdoses, drug-related suicides spike in DougCo

Posted at 12:06 PM, Sep 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-21 14:06:13-04

Some parents are calling it a crisis.

In Douglas County, there have been three deaths and suicides among young adults and teens in the past month, all possibly connected to drugs. Toxicology results are still pending in some of the cases.

"The drug abuse can cause depression," said Chris Lazarus who lost her teenage son to an overdose of cocaine and heroin called a Speed Ball in 2012. "And I think these kids are getting into a cycle and they don’t know how to get out."

Parents and concerned citizens held a meeting at St. Mark Catholic Church in Highlands Ranch Sunday night.

Former DEA forensics chemist Lynn Riemer, president of Act on Drugs, led the discussion at St. Mark.

"Heroin is huge down here," said Riemer. "And I think a lot of it has to do with affluence. Where you see more money, you see more drugs."

But Riemer also pointed out, the issue is not isolated to Douglas County. She said communities throughout the metro area are dealing with the same issues.

"It's out of control," said Lazarus. "These kids are not taught, in my opinion, how to manage stress."

"Drugs are glamorized all over Youtube, in the music today, people post stuff on their Facebook, they snap it out on Instagram, it's on Twitter," said Riemer.

The epidemic happening here is somewhat of a mystery. As many as a dozen drug related overdoses and suicides since January of this year. The latest, a teenage boy, happening just five days ago – last Wednesday.

Perhaps it's peer pressure, stress, social media harassment or a lethal combination of it all.

"The science is clear," said Riemer. "If parents talk to their kids, they're a lot less likely to do a lot of things."

"There's no shame," said Lazarus. "And if we don't stand up and talk about it and we don't educate ourselves and don't educate our kids, it's just going to continue to snowball."

Riemer says there are also misconceptions about marijuana, which is now legal in Colorado.

"There are really good doctors in this state that do a lot of research around marijuana saying it’s very similar to opiates. Which is heroin," she said. "It’s a very bad drug."

"There’s no reason that we should be losing our children at a rate like this to drugs," said Lazarus. "It is a total battle. And we have some kind of appearance of being perfect - and we’re not. And our children aren’t."