Prescription Practices and Education

Redefining Drug Education in Denver: A Harm Reduction Approach to Combat Opioid Crisis

Harm reduction in drug ed can better address Denver's opioid crisis.

November 6, 2023
Redefining Drug Education in Denver: A Harm Reduction Approach to Combat Opioid Crisis
In Denver, Colorado, as in many parts of the United States, the opioid crisis has taken a toll on communities, with fentanyl emerging as a particularly deadly threat. Traditional drug education methods like the "Just Say No" campaign have fallen short in protecting our youth from the dangers of such potent substances. It's time for a change—a shift towards harm reduction education, a realistic approach that could significantly impact opioid treatment and prevention in Denver.

Embracing Realism in Drug Education

Elias Myers, a college sophomore, and his peers are among the many young individuals who have navigated the perilous landscape of modern drug use with little to no practical education about substances like fentanyl. This gap in knowledge underscores the need for a harm reduction approach in drug education, one that Denver could greatly benefit from. This method, advocated by experts like Professor Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, focuses on providing honest, balanced information about drugs, their effects, and safety measures.

What Harm Reduction Looks Like

Harm reduction in drug education involves teaching students not just to avoid drugs but also how to stay safe if they or someone they know chooses to use them. This includes understanding the risks associated with opioids like fentanyl, knowing how to use Narcan (a life-saving medication for opioid overdoses), and recognizing the importance of safe drug practices. For Denver, this could mean incorporating these topics into school curriculums and community programs, providing a more comprehensive approach to drug education.

The Role of Narcan Training

One crucial aspect of harm reduction is the awareness and availability of Narcan. In Denver, increasing access to Narcan training and supplies could be a game-changer in preventing overdose deaths. Teaching individuals how to recognize overdose symptoms and administer Narcan can save lives, making it an essential component of modern drug education.

Building a Supportive Community

Beyond the classroom, tackling the opioid crisis in Denver requires a community-wide effort. This includes open conversations about drug use and addiction, access to opioid treatment facilities, and support for those in recovery. As we aim to reduce the stigma around substance use, it becomes easier for individuals to seek help and for communities to provide effective support.


The shift towards harm reduction in drug education is more than just a change in teaching methodology—it's a lifesaving strategy in the fight against the opioid crisis. For Denver and cities alike, embracing this approach could lead to a more informed, safer community, better equipped to tackle the challenges of opioid addiction and abuse. If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction in Denver, resources are available. Visit our website to learn more about opioid treatment options and how you can be part of the solution in our community.

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