Activism

Wall in Civic Center "Lifts the Label" on Opioid Addiction

The Colorado Department of Human Services unveiled a memorial wall made of 4,200 prescription bottles at Civic Center Park on Monday, May 14.
The Colorado Department of Human Services unveiled a memorial wall made of 4,200 prescription bottles at Civic Center Park on Monday, May 14. Kenzie Bruce
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.

click to enlarge 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. - KENZIE BRUCE
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.
Kenzie Bruce
"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.

click to enlarge The bottles all include facts or encouraging messages to "lift the label." - KENZIE BRUCE
The bottles all include facts or encouraging messages to "lift the label."
Kenzie Bruce
click to enlarge CDHS Executive Director Reggie Bicha addresses the crowd on May 14. - KENZIE BRUCE
CDHS Executive Director Reggie Bicha addresses the crowd on May 14.
Kenzie Bruce
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kenzie Bruce formerly Westword’s social media editor, is a Mizzou photojournalism graduate and was previously the manager of communications and multimedia for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International in Atlanta.
Contact: Kenzie Bruce