The 4,200 pill bottles in Civic Center Park don't have names or recommended dosages on their labels. Instead, they have statistics and words of encouragement.
On Monday, May 14, the Colorado Department of Human Services launched a public-awareness campaign called "Lift the Label," a statewide movement to de-stigmatize opioid addiction. During the launch, the CDHS unveiled a 34-foot-long wall covered in 4,200 bottles to represent the 42,000 Americans who died from prescription opioid and heroin overdoses in 2016. The other side of the wall is a blank white board where individuals can commemorate loved ones who have struggled with addiction.
Dr. Varsha Lafargue, left, and Jeffery Kooistra sign the back side of the opioid memorial wall. Kooistra's twin sister died of an opioid overdose.
"In Colorado, there were 357 deaths from prescription opioid overdose in 2017," said executive director of the CDHS Reggie Bicha during the campaign launch event. "We want Coloradans to know that we support them because they’re our family, our co-workers, our community leaders, our friends. If they’re ready to seek help, we’ve got their back.”
Fifteen Coloradans who suffered from addiction attended the event to share their experiences and stories of recovery. The individuals included Austin Eubanks, a Columbine shooting survivor who developed an addiction after his traumatic experience, and Dana Knowles, a former broadcast journalist for 9NEWS who developed an addiction after hip surgery.
The wall will be on display on the first floor of the Colorado State Capitol until May 31.
The bottles all include facts or encouraging messages to "lift the label."
CDHS Executive Director Reggie Bicha addresses the crowd on May 14.