I am writing to you today regarding HB 18-1136, the Substance Use Disorder Treatment. I urge you to approve this bill and send it to the full house. I believe that my story will explain to you why this bill, if law, would have helped my family.
In October, 2014 my 25 yr old son Charlie Hughes had a hernia operation, paid for by Medicaid. I was not aware of this at the time, but, at release, his doctor gave him a 90 day supply of oxycodone for pain. In January, 2015, he ran out and switched to heroin. This coincided with the death of his best friend and was the worst time he had ever lived through. In February he asked for my help to quit the heroin addiction. Turning to the internet, we realized that we would have to try to tackle this subject on our own, as he only had Medicaid and his father and I could not afford to help him financially.
Because my son, his father and I are self employed, we were able to rearrange work schedules so that either his father or I could be with our son while he went through withdrawal. It was a very hard 1st month, especially when I found out that his dealer was the next door neighbor. But, he made it through to the other side successfully. He was clean for a year. I know this because I randomly drug tested him with kits that I bought online.
During his withdrawal, we noticed that alcohol helped dull the withdrawal pain. So I would give him shots of vodka like a doctor would give out medicine. We weaned him off the alcohol and on the last day of that, he ended up needing a trip to the ER. That is when we learned that there was medication that would have helped him with the withdrawal symptoms of both heroin and alcohol.
At any rate, the rest of 2015 was fairly successful He began to drink more than i thought he should, but, he seemed to be handling it. He went to work, life was good, we thought we had escaped this monster.
On the 1st year anniversary of his friends death, he visited with his friends mom. He came home, went next door and bought heroin and began using again. This time, I took him to the ER for help. They gave him IV fluids, and gave me the medication that would help with withdrawal symptoms. I rearranged my schedule, and if neither my husband or myself could be with him, his sister could . He got clean again, but, his drinking escalated.
He was desparate to quit both and did a lot of research on his own.about this. For the next 2 yrs, we would go through the cycle. He would get clean, stay clean, start drinking, start drugging. He would beg for help, we would go to the ER for help, they would give me the medication, we would go through the withdrawal and life would begin again. Only early on, he started to have seizures whenever he withdrew, which meant more time in the ER. And each time, the withdrawals were harder, lasted longer. He then started to develop other complications, like pancreatitis, gastritis and depression and was actually admitted for up to 5 days. One time, he called the police threatening suicide. They took him in for a 72 hr hold and the hospital released him at 5 am the next morning, less than 24 hrs later.
In December-January, he was clean for 32 days – the longest time for quite some time. His skin color was normal, his eyes were bright. He was happy, he was healthy, he laughed. He felt like he was conquering this evil. And then January 28 came around, the anniversary of his friends death. He was never able to get through this time of year before and didn’t this time either. He started drinking heavily and that led to using heroin again. On Feb. 9. 2018, he overdosed on fentanyl heroin with a 4.5 BAC as well. On Feb. 12, after 3 days of no brain activity, we agreed to have life support disconnected and he died 8 minutes later.
Your job is not to feel my pain. Your job today is to weigh the costs of this bill and determine if there is justiification in passing it through. So, it is my job to tell you that during the last 3 years, I had 10 times to curse the fact that my son could not get treatment because medicaid didn’t cover it. It made no sense to me that although medicaid would cover state of the art ER, they had to kick him to the curb with no treatment afterwards. Although I thank God the ER;s were there, I know we, as a state have been spending money in the WRONG place.
Here is proof. I pulled numbers off the https://cha.com/colorado-hospitals/price-report/
4 trips to St. Anthony North ER: $15.999/ea = $61,996.00
1 trip to North Metro Suburban ER: $10,930.00
1 trip to St. Anthony North, admitted for 4 days = 4 x $21,870.00 = $87,480.00
1 trip to Steamboat Springs ER: $6309.00
1 trip to UC Denver, admitted for 4 days = 4 x $22,085.00 = $88,340.00
1 trip to Lutheran, admitted for 3 days = 3 x $16,852.00 = $50,556.00
1 trip to St. Anthony Lakewood ICU 4 days = 4 x 21,870.00 = $87,480.00
Total – $393,091.00
(I sent these figures for review to Dr. Valuck of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. He assured me that they were accurate.)
This is not counting the lost revenue from work days spent helping him through withdrawal, or the fact that my husband will now have to close the company that he and my son co-owned and worked within.
Then I googled for the average cost of an in-patient residential treatment center stay and found info on this website:
And see that they list:
Residential rehab –$8000-$32,000 per month – my son would have required in patient residential rehab because up to about 5 months ago, his dealer lived next door and are also on every street corner in our neighborhood.
So, for my calculations, I used $16,000/mos for a year of treatment.
12 x $16,000 = $192,000
Which would have been a savings to the state of $201,091.00.
And they would have had a taxpaying citizen adding to the coffers for years to come. But, because this same state is spending money in all the wrong places, all we have now is a box of ashes on my dresser instead.
Please pass this bill from the appropriations committee to the full house so that we can get treatment to those who haven’t died yet.
If you need, I am available for email or phone questions, PS: Attached are pictures of my son.