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Doctor’s Tip: What about eggs?

The purpose of a hen’s egg is to provide the nutrients necessary to develop a baby chick. Eggs are packed with protein, fat, cholesterol, vitamins and minerals. However, as Dr. John McDougall — one of the giants in plant-based nutrition — puts it, “An egg is the richest of all foods, and far too much of a ‘good thing’ for people.” For example, a whole egg has 272 mg. of cholesterol, close to the recommended daily allowance. Eggs also contain cholesterol-raising saturated fat.

It’s frustrating when one month we’re told by the media that a food like eggs should be avoided, and then the next month we’re told they’re OK. The reason for these confusing and frustrating flip-flops is usually that Big Food does its best to sow seeds of doubt about established science when science shows that their product is unhealthy. This is the same tactic used by the Big Tobacco a few decades ago.

Here’s a real-life example of how it works:

  • We know that after eating an egg, triglyceride and cholesterol levels go up for a few hours, and we think this is when harmful plaque is formed in arteries.
  •  The American Egg Board hires research scientists willing to sell their souls and perform a study with a pre-determined outcome that supports their product.
  • The study involves giving study participants an egg, having them fast overnight, and then checking their cholesterol — long after the post-meal rise has subsided. At that point, cholesterol levels are the same as before the egg intake, and the study claims that eating eggs doesn’t raise cholesterol. Of course, the dangerous post-meal rise isn’t mentioned.
  • Food and science writers are usually not sophisticated enough to figure out what’s going on (it’s hard enough for physicians to determine whether studies are valid).
  • Over 90 percent of “scientific” papers on food are now done by industry-sponsored scientists.

Neal Barnard, M.D., founding president of PCRM (Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine) recently reviewed the health problems linked to eggs, which include elevated risk of:  1. strokes; 2. heart attacks, particularly in diabetics; 3. type 2 diabetes; 4. prostate cancer — especially the aggressive kind that spreads.

Michael Greger, M.D., cites evidence showing increased risk of additional health problems associated with eating even one egg a day:  1. asthma in children; 2. inflammation (due to arachidonic acid), the root of many chronic diseases; 3. cancer of the breast, mouth, colon, and bladder, lung and ovary.

Then there are the environmental issues associated with any kind of animal products compared to plant foods. And if you watch the documentary Food, Inc., you will be shocked by the animal rights abuses associated with factory-farm egg production. Crumbled tofu makes a good substitute for egg whites, for example in making tofu scramble. If a baking recipe calls for eggs, substitute ground flaxseed and/or unsweetened apple sauce.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment, or email gfeinsinger@comcast.net.

Torres column: Don’t live your life like a beheaded chicken

Have you asked yourself what it is that you want from life? Is your answer specific and clear?

I recently went to Florida with my wife and we had to hire many Uber drivers for transportation. We talked to many of them while others were indifferent.

I heard many stories. One of the drivers moved from New York. He said that his family wanted a more calm life. He mentioned that he also worked as a taxi driver in New York. He bought an expensive Cadillac because in New York those cars are the money makers. Many people request luxury cars as taxis. However, it was not the same in Florida. In Florida, the money makers were the hybrid family cars because of the Family Parks.

He knew what he was doing, so I learned that it is good to research what is in demand in each state in case I have to move.

Most of the Uber drives we hired, they do Uber as a second job, another thing I learned. They make extra money when they are bored, they need money or it is a busy season.

However, I also talked to a guy who moved from Venezuela. His name is Roman. Roman told me about his family issues and how his dad is still in Venezuela. He was not sure if wanted to stay in the USA or move back to Venezuela. So I asked one simple question that got him thinking. What is it that you want from life? He could not answer the question, but it got him thinking.

As Roman and I talked, he reminded me when I was unhappy and lost. I wanted to go back to Mexico because I was not happy in the USA. I did not like the culture, I missed my friends, the parties and the way we live in Mexico. I lived unhappy with my location for around eight years.

It was not until I found myself that I noticed that it was not the place that made me miserable. It was me. Many people go back to their country and come back to the USA again because they are still unhappy in any place.

Once I found myself, I studied why I wanted to go back to Mexico and the truth is that I wanted to go back because I missed my past. I was stuck in my past. I did not really miss Mexico. I missed my friends, partying and having no major responsibilities as I have here. I wanted to go back to continue living my liberal life.

However, once I found myself, I found my purpose and finding my purpose gave me the peace to live anywhere God puts me because my purpose is my happiness.

As Roman and I continued talking, he noticed the reason why he wanted to go back to his country. The reason was his dad. His dad does not want to travel to the USA and he is happy in Venezuela. So Roman started to think about what he can do to see his dad more often and convince him to come to the USA. Roman wants his family together. That is what he wants.

This is the real question we all should ask ourselves every morning we wake up. What is it that we want from life? Once we answer this question, we can have a daily plan to really live life and don’t just act like a beheaded chicken all over the place without going anywhere.

For example, many people work for money without really thinking how they would use the money. They just use the money for traveling, goods, partying and others. But they don’t think about how money is really not the end of their goal. Money is only a tool to use to acquire other things that contribute to our genuine happiness.

Other people just live and eat without thinking about the consequences of their behavior. I drive very often by a famous fast food restaurant and I see a long line of cars each time I drive by and I wonder how many of these people really care about their health and if they have the knowledge to make better choices. But the reality is that it is convenient and cheap. Nevertheless, I bet people’s “wants” is not to get sick and overweight, but that is what they are practicing.

Just like Roman did not know what he really wanted, to move back to his country or not, you may be in the same situation. Roman did not want to move. He wants his family together. It seems that they prefer to be in the USA than being together in Venezuela. 

If you start your day knowing what you want from life, the possibilities of you making the right decision is bigger than just waking up and going with the flow and destiny. 

Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs and author of the books “Lose Weight Permanently” and “Finding Genuine Happiness.” His column appears monthly.

Guest column: Finding the right addiction treatment for you

As we often say in addiction treatment circles, awareness is the first step to change. The process of someone becoming aware of their addiction problem can be tiresome and challenging, and people can experience a plethora of consequences before they are willing and ready to accept help. We sometimes call this “hitting bottom, “an experience that can look very different from person to person. This process is difficult enough on its own but is made worse by the fact that people often do not know where or how to access the support needed to heal from their addiction.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), around 10% of adults in the United States have a substance use disorder at some point in their lives. Of that 10%, 75% do not receive proper treatment. This coincides with the fact that the meaning of the term “proper treatment” is not always immediately clear.

There are thousands of different programs, each with their own unique specialties, methodologies, populations and price points. Some programs take insurance, but insurance coverage varies based on a plethora of factors. Some programs only work through private pay options, which can range from relatively affordable, to extremely expensive.

As with most things, you generally get what you pay for, but not always. Whether private pay, insurance based or some combination of both, each program will differ in its commitment to best practice standards, as well as professional ethics. Some programs are unethical and engage in practices that are both immoral and damaging to the populations they serve. Some of the stories you hear about treatment programs are incredibly disturbing and include incidents of abuse, financial exploitation, false advertising and insurance fraud.

Help is available
If you or someone you know is in crisis, there are 24/7 hotlines and resources locally and nationally:
Aspen Hope Center: Call 970-925-5858.
Aspen Strong: aspenstrong.org
A Way Out: https://awayout.org/
Colorado Crisis Services: Call 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call or text 988.

There are also plenty of ethical, effective and competent treatment programs across the country that truly help individuals achieve recovery. Determining which is which is a matter of doing one’s homework and knowing the right questions to ask. The treatment program should be able to forthrightly explain their approach, methodologies, commitment to professional ethics, pricing and process for working with insurance. They should be willing to be held accountable through regular contact with you and should be happy to accept feedback. They should also be honest about both their strengths and weaknesses and should be willing to refer you to another program if you do not align with their admissions criteria.

Look for accreditations from major agencies within the behavioral health field, such as accreditation from the Joint Commission or Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). You should also be looking for memberships in professional organizations, such as NAADAC (the Association for Addiction Professionals) or NAATAP (National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers). If possible, ask members of your social circle about treatment programs they have had experiences with.

This vetting process is where hiring a professional can be incredibly beneficial. You should vet the provider in the same way you would a treatment program. If you trust them, they can help guide you in finding a program that is ethical, effective, and the best fit for your situation. Hard-won experience can be the most helpful in navigating such a complex system.

Many people in our valley simply do not get the support they need to heal and thrive. The current system for accessing care can be difficult to navigate to the point that people either give up or settle for care that is not appropriate for their needs. However, addiction is a very treatable illness, and support is out there. Ask lots of questions, seek clarification on things you don’t understand, do your own research, and seek support from a professional if you can. In that way, you can find the support that will best fit your needs and your life.

Henry Maxwell is an addiction counselor, consultant, coach and interventionist working in the Roaring Fork Valley. He has worked in several different settings within the addiction treatment industry, starting as a technician at a community mental health detox. In his free time, he enjoys creating art, exercising and riding his 1999 Honda Magna motorcycle.

Torres column: Be genuine

“Don’t be afraid of losing people. Be afraid of losing yourself by trying to please everyone around you.” 

Around 10 years ago, I decided to be myself and stand up for what I believe is true (compared to what other people want me to believe). I decided that I needed to be genuine to myself since I was never honest to myself. 

Before my change, I tried many times to please other people, even though I did not agree with their beliefs and philosophy. I was their puppet. For some reason, doing that made me weak. We know inside of us when we do and say things that make us weak. I knew that, and I never did something to change it, maybe because I was afraid of people not liking me. 

It was not until I decided to become a better person and version of me that I decided to stand up for my values. Something inside of me changed. I knew many people would get annoyed because of my new “attitude.”    

I got fired because of it; I lost many friends; I was less popular with my peers, and I could not fit into many circles of people. It was very difficult in the beginning, but things started to turn around.

Even though things were not turning out good, I started to feel confident and happy. I knew inside of me that everything would come to be okay. For the first time, I was good with myself.

Another bad behavior I had was that I used to lie consciously and continuously for many reasons. You may empathize with me and understand that it is easier (physiologically) to tell a lie then say the truth. But, in truth, it is easier to tell the truth than lie because of the consequences. 

When I decided to stand up for my beliefs, I also decided to start telling the truth no matter the consequences. The truth is hard for many people, and many times will hurt people and make others angry. Even though there are many who never get over their emotions, others will control their emotions, and they understand that telling the truth is the best thing for everyone. 

This year, I discovered an amazing clinical psychologist who recommends not to say things that make you weak and to always say the truth. His name is Jordan Peterson. He explains how doing so helps you put your life back together, and it helps you to be an asset for society instead of a burden. 

I discovered that he is right and being genuine to yourself is the best thing you can do not only to be an asset to society, but also to be happy. 

Many people struggle in life because they are not true to themselves. They suffer anxiety, depression and other psychological symptoms. They put themselves into stress to try to please others, and they end up miserable because they are unable to truly commit to themselves and fail to be liked by everyone.

It is just simply impossible to be liked by everyone. 

Now being true to yourself is not following your carnal desires. It is to listen to yourself, to go against what you know you are doing wrong. It is to contemplate your life and understand that you may be practicing bad behavior even though it is accepted by society. Being true to yourself is to truly do what is right when others disapprove of your behavior.

There are so many behaviors that can be against your will, but your body wants to practice, such as alcoholism, pornography, impulsing shopping, binge eating and others. 

The key here is not to give up and not to let yourself down. You will see how your self confidence increases because every time to do what you know is true to you, you know you are being honest with you. 

If you have not tried to be true to yourself and tell the truth no matter the consequences, maybe it is time for you to try and see how your life turns around.

Becoming an asset for society I think is a good motive, but what I really think is the real reason to change is to find yourself and with that genuine happiness. 

Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs and author of the books “Lose Weight Permanently” and “Finding Genuine Happiness.” His column appears on the third Wednesday of the month.

Doctor’s Tip: Weight of the evidence supports avoiding oil for optimal health

Fats are one of the three macronutrients required for human health; the other two being carbohydrates and protein. There are healthy and unhealthy fats.

Polyunsaturated fats, which include omega-3 and omega-6, are unquestionably healthy and are found in plants (fish contains omega-3, but it comes from the algae they eat). Monounsaturated fats are found in plants such as olives and avocados, and there is less agreement about their health benefits. Saturated fat is found in animal products and tropical oils (coconut and palm) and causes the liver to make more LDL (bad cholesterol) — high levels of which cause heart disease.

Until the mid-twentieth century, animal fat (such as lard) was used in cooking and to increase shelf life of processed foods. When it became apparent in the 1950s that animal fats caused heart disease, the food industry started using palm and coconut oil as alternatives. When it was determined that these tropical oils also caused heart disease, other plant oils such as sunflower, corn and sesame came into use. Food-industry scientists also engineered trans fats, which were found to cause an even higher incidence of heart disease than saturated fat, resulting in a ban by the FDA in 2018.

How about concerns related to oils used today for cooking and adding to packaged food products? The first concern is that oils are processed, and, as noted in previous columns, nutrition experts recommend eating unprocessed food. Oils are extracted from plants and seeds by use of heat and chemical solvents, resulting in a loss of most of their nutrients. Oils can also be processed by mechanical pressure called “cold pressing,” which results in loss of fiber but not as many of other nutrients.

The second major problem with oils is that they are fat, which has 9 calories per gram versus 4 for carbohydrates and protein. According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book “The End of Dieting,” the average American diet contains about 400 calories of oil a day. Furthermore, fat in the form of oil is rapidly absorbed and deposited immediately as fat (“2 minutes from lips to hips” per Dr. Fuhrman). The 66% of Americans whom the CDC reports as overweight or obese should avoid consuming these empty calories.

Additional health concerns about oil are the following: 

1. Vegetable oils inflame arteries, resulting in constriction and eventually plaque (hardening of the arteries — the cause of heart attacks and strokes).

2. All oils have saturated fat, which elevates cholesterol. Canola has the least, at 7%; olive oil 14%; and coconut oil over 90%.

3. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in our blood should be 1:1 or at most 4:1 for optimal health. Due in large part to oil in their diet, most Americans have a ratio 20 times that. Too much omega-6 and too little omega-3 contributes to inflammation, depression, heart disease and diabetes.

4. When oils reach their smoke point, carcinogens form. Olive oil has a relatively low smoke point of 350 degrees, avocado oil relatively high at 520 degrees.

Given these health concerns, why do food companies add oils to their products? As with salt and sugar, it’s all about profits. The “bliss point” is the amount of an ingredient such as salt, sugar or fat which optimizes yumminess. These three substances are addictive and, due to lack of fiber, don’t produce satiety — so, people eat more and more, increasing food company profits.

It’s easy to cook without oil — use a non-stick pan and water, low-sodium vegetable broth, wine or vinegar. If a baking recipe calls for oil, substitute ground flax seed (flax meal), unsweetened apple sauce, mashed bananas or avocado, soaked prunes or canned pumpkin. Instead of using oil-based spreads such as butter, margarine or Earth Balance, put unsweetened apple sauce with a sprinkle of cinnamon on your toast. Use balsamic vinegar on salads, without olive oil — or google recipes for oil-free dressing.

Be careful when eating out. For example, if you order vegetable stir fry in an Asian restaurant, it may not be as healthy as you think because foods such as eggplant and zucchini soak up oil. Request no or minimal oil (Yes, the chef can do it). 

A caveat regarding cold-pressed organic extra-virgin olive oil: If you feel you must use oil, this would be the healthiest, and be sure you keep it in the refrigerator, so it doesn’t become rancid (which would definitely be harmful for health).

There are nutrition experts — such as physician-researcher David Katz, M.D. and science writer Mark Bittman — who point out in their book “How to Eat” that there are populations in the Mediterranean area that live long, healthy lives on a diet that includes moderate amounts of cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil. On the other hand, in his book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease,” physician-researcher Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has a chapter dedicated to the science showing harm from mono-unsaturated fats such as olive oil.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment, or email gfeinsinger@comcast.net.

‘Mammography myths’ Zoom event hosted by Valley View this week

If you go…

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17

How: To register, visit vvh.org/VVU 

Working up to Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Valley View Hospital is hosting educational events online with the first starting tomorrow.

The Zoom event will be on “Five Mammogram Myths” with Valley View radiologist Dr. William Weathers and Valley View mammographer Becky Williamson.

“Nearly all of us know someone who has been affected by breast cancer,” Weathers said. “Taking the time to learn more about breast cancer screening and misconceptions around screening can help save lives, including our own.”

The 20-minute presentation will cover common misconceptions when it comes to breast imaging, and then will open to a Q&A with Weathers and Williamson to cover topics like cancer detection, the real dosage of radiation in mammograms, improvements in comfort, and the difference between 3-D mammograms and traditional mammograms.

More events for breast cancer awareness
  • I’ve Been Diagnosed with Breast Cancer! What Do I Do? | 6 p.m. Sept. 21
  • Surgical Options for Breast Cancer | 6 p.m. Oct. 19
  • Breast Reconstruction, the Light at the End of the Tunnel | 6 p.m. Nov. 16
  • Top Five Questions with Radiation Oncologist | 6 p.m. Jan. 18, 2023
  • Who Needs Chemotherapy or Hormone Blockers for Breast Cancer | 6 p.m. Feb. 15, 2023
  • What is Genetic Testing? | 6 p.m. March 15, 2023
  • Survivorship and Lifestyle Recommendations | 6 p.m. April 19, 2023

Doctor’s Tip: Flax seeds have many health benefits

Flaxseeds are a another one of Dr. Greger’s daily dozen. Last week’s column about nuts and seeds pointed out that nuts are actually seeds. As famous physician-researcher Dr. Dean Ornish puts it in his book “Undo It,” seeds (and nuts) “contain concentrated energy that when planted can turn into a tree or plant.”

Although other seeds such as chia and hemp have health benefits, flaxseeds have the most. Over 2,000 years ago, famous Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about using flaxseeds to treat his patients. Following are some of their health benefits:

Fiber: Flaxseeds contain fiber, which feeds the trillions of bacteria in the gut microbiome.

Breast cancer: Lignans are weak estrogen-like substances found in many plant foods, that dampen the effect of the body’s own estrogen, and flaxseeds have 100 times more lignans than other plants. In the lab, lignans suppress proliferation of breast cancer cells. Human studies have shown regular intake of flaxseeds helps prevent breast cancer. And regular flaxseed consumption in women who already have breast cancer increases survival.

Hypertension: Regular intake of ground flaxseed reduces systolic (the upper number) blood pressure by 10-15 points and diastolic (the lower number) by 7 points — reductions that are greater than commonly prescribed blood pressure pills.

Prostate cancer: Higher levels of lignans are found in prostate fluid of populations with low rates of prostate cancer. Several studies have shown that regular intake of flaxseeds can reduce risk of early precancerous prostate changes as well as prostate cancer.

Omega-3 is a fatty acid important for brain health, among other things. A tablespoon of ground flaxseed a day gives you the amount of omega-3 recommended daily by the World Health Organization.

Benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH): Many men develop enlarged prostates as they age, resulting in a weak urinary stream, dribbling and trips to the bathroom at night. Regular intake of ground flaxseed has been shown to be as effective as commonly prescribed pills for this condition.

Anti-inflammatory effect: Inflammation plays a major role in aging and in most of the chronic diseases that sicken and kill people on a typical Western diet. Flaxseeds have a strong anti-inflammatory effect.

Dr. Greger recommends 1 tablespoon of flaxseed a day, and it’s best that it’s ground, because the whole seeds tend to pass through you without being absorbed. They are available in whole and ground form at most grocery stores. You can grind your own in a coffee grinder, but if you want to simplify your life, buy the already-ground flax meal. A good way to get your daily dose in is to put it on your oatmeal in the morning — or add to a green smoothy (the healthy fat in the flaxseeds helps you absorb the fat soluble vitamins in the greens). Avoid flax oil, because it’s processed.

If some flaxseed is good, is more better? As is so often the case, the answer is no. Too much flaxseed can cause, rather than prevent, health problems.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment or email gfeinsinger@comcast.net.

Feria de salud de Glenwood Springs amplía su alcance para incluir un importante esfuerzo de divulgación en español

El regreso de 9Health Community Health Fair en Glenwood Springs la próxima semana no solo marca el primer evento de este tipo en tres años después de las suspensiones por la pandemia, sino que también presenta un gran esfuerzo para informar a los latinos del área sobre asuntos y servicios de salud.

Está edición de 9Health 365 Fair en Glenwood está programada de 9 a.m. a 1 p.m. el 7 de mayo en la escuela secundaria de Glenwood Springs, ubicada en 1521 Grand Ave.

Además de los exámenes de salud habituales gratuitos o de costo reducido que se ofrecerán a los participantes, este año 9Health se acercó a la recién organizada La Clínica del Pueblo en Carbondale para presentar la primera Feria de Salud como parte del evento.

El proyecto tiene como objetivo garantizar que la población de habla hispana del área conozca los exámenes de salud que están disponibles no solo ese día, sino durante todo el año a través de las muchas organizaciones de servicios humanos que tienen su sede en la región del Roaring Fork Valley.

Más de 50 organizaciones han sido invitadas a instalar puestos con información tanto en español como en inglés, dijo Brisa Chavez, coordinadora de participación hispana de Salud Pública del condado de Garfield.

Con anticipación, las promotoras voluntarias que trabajan con La Clínica del Pueblo están ayudando a asegurarse de que los hispanohablantes sepan sobre la feria de salud y que se registren para los análisis de sangre y otros servicios. Vacunas contra el COVID-19 también estarán disponibles.

“Ha habido un gran esfuerzo para transmitir el mensaje sobre lo que está pasando y que si todos estamos más saludables, la comunidad será más saludable en general,” dijo Chavez.

Hazzell Chévez de Manzano se convirtió en obstetra/ginecóloga licenciada en El Salvador y ahora trabaja con el programa de nutrición WIC del condado de Eagle. Es la coordinadora médica principal de la Feria de Salud y brinda servicios a través de La Clínica del Pueblo.

“Muchos latinos no tienen seguro médico y no van al médico hasta que están enfermos o con dolor,” dijo Chévez.

Incluso cuando tienen una preocupación específica, a menudo no saben a quién acudir, dijo.

“Queremos que la gente sepa que hay una gran cantidad de servicios asequibles a los que pueden acceder, y muchos de forma gratuita,” dijo Chévez. “La (feria de la salud) es una gran oportunidad para aprender sobre estos recursos.

“También es una gran oportunidad para que vengan a ver cómo se encuentran de salud y si hay algún problema que deban abordar,” dijo sobre los exámenes que se ofrecerán.

Las ferias de 9Health se llevarán a cabo en abril y mayo en más de 40 ubicaciones en todo Colorado, incluido un evento reciente en Rifle el 9 de abril.

“Tras el aplazamiento desafortunado pero necesario de nuestras ferias de salud comunitarias en marzo del 2020 debido a la pandemia de COVID-19, estamos encantados de ofrecer una vez más nuestras ferias de salud en la primavera para los residentes de Colorado,” dijo Gary Drews, director ejecutivo de 9Health 365. en un comunicado de prensa.

Profesionales médicos estarán en el sitio para ofrecer asesoramiento y asistencia, ayudando a los participantes a decidir qué exámenes de detección son adecuados para ellos.

Las personas que no puedan asistir al evento aún pueden obtener los mismos exámenes a través de Quest Diagnostics. No se necesita visita al médico ni seguro.

Las ferias de salud continúan siguiendo las pautas de seguridad del CDC y requieren que los participantes usen máscaras. Se aceptarán evaluaciones sin cita previa, pero se recomienda hacer citas.

Todavía se necesitan voluntarios para el evento. Hay más información disponible aquí: [9health365.org/volunteer-1/].

Traducción de Edgar Barrantes. Puedes contactar al Reportero Sénior/Editor Gerente John Stroud al 970-384-9160 o jstroud@postindependent.com.

A message of hope amid personal loss: Glenwood Springs daughter, mother raise awareness about fentanyl danger

Ashley Adams and her mother, Cath, hold a photo of Emily Adams before the presentation about fentanyl at Roaring Fork High School. Emily died after an accidental overdose in 2020.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

A Glenwood Springs High School senior and her mother are sharing a very personal story this spring with students, parents and the broader community about the deadly dangers of fentanyl.

Ashley and Cath Adams lost their sister/daughter Emily to an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2020 after she had moved to Arizona and was working to help people in addiction recovery.

A decision to take what ended up being a fake pill for a toothache, which Emily had obtained from a friend thinking it was Percocet, turned fatal. She was 21.

“My daughter walked these same halls when she was a student, and probably had some of the same teachers as you,” Cath Adams said before a gathering of Roaring Fork High School juniors and seniors in Carbondale on April 20.

Emily attended Roaring Fork her freshman and sophomore years, before graduating from Yampah Mountain High School in Glenwood.

“If you don’t think this can happen to you, it can. This isn’t a comfortable message. It isn’t cozy. It’s very real,” Cath Adams said.

Emily ended up ingesting enough fentanyl in that fake pill to kill three people. An autopsy found no other drugs in her system.

Ashley Adams speaks about losing her sister Emily to an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2020, during a presentation to students at Roaring Fork High School
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Ashley took the call from Emily’s roommate informing her that her sister had died. It was April 28, 2020. It was Ashley’s 16th birthday.

“My last memory of her was her head showing on a stainless steel table,” Ashley told the student gathering last week. “I asked her to wake up, but she didn’t wake up.”

For her high school capstone project last summer, Ashley organized an Overdose Awareness Day at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel to bring attention to the issue, inviting speakers and information booths from various organizations, and ending the day with an honor walk in memory of those lost.

She and her mother have since taken their message online and on the road with the founding of Aperture of Hope — Seeing the Light, an information campaign to warn of the dangers of fentanyl and its increasing presence in the illegal drug trade. The site also shares positive messages around not succumbing to bullying and other struggles that can lead to substance use.

Aperture of Hope Pledge

• Never take a random pill

• Spread the word about the dangers of experimenting and recreational drug use

• Find healthier alternatives to coping with pain, stress and anxiety

• Be available and supportive of those struggling with mental health and substance use

• Be Kind — “You Matter”

Unlike most drugs of choice, be it illegal or legal, there’s no choice for the unsuspecting victims who think they’re buying one thing but end up taking a drug laced with fentanyl, the Adamses emphasized in their presentation.

Drug enforcement officials and other awareness groups warn that the synthetic, highly lethal opioid has found its way into knock-off pain pills and other street drugs, including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. There have even been reports of fentanyl contamination in black-market marijuana, likely a result of some of the same processing equipment being used by drug dealers.

The mother and daughter have shared their message to students at Glenwood Springs and Battle Mountain high schools and before smaller groups of students in health classes.

A community presentation is planned for 3 p.m. May 15 at the Basalt Regional Library, inviting parents, students and the general public.

Cath Adams holds a photo of her late daughter Emily along with Emily's basketball jersey while talking to Roaring Fork High School students about the dangers of fentanyl. Emily died of an accidental overdose in 2020.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Central to their message is to not trust any drug that isn’t prescribed by a doctor and comes from a pharmacy. When it comes to marijuana, which is legal in Colorado for those 21 and older, it’s best to buy from a legal marijuana dispensary and not on the black market, they said.

The message to students also comes during the time of year when various celebrations, and partying, often occur during prom and graduation and other events.

“My sister doesn’t get to come to my graduation next month,” Ashley Adams said. “It’s OK to say ‘no.’ You don’t have to be the cool person. Anything that someone gives you could be laced with fentanyl.”

The Adamses also share a video documentary during their presentations, “Dead on Arrival,” which tells the story of four parents who lost their children to accidental fentanyl overdoses. The documentary can be found on YouTube.

Student reactions to the presentations are often very impactful, Ashley said.

“We ask them to fill out note cards with ‘words of wisdom,’ and it’s interesting to see what they write,” she said.

Emily was wearing a bracelet when she died that said “You Matter,” which has also become central to their message. The note cards are placed into a backpack that belonged to Emily when she died.

“A lot of the students come up afterwards and say, ‘Thank you for doing this, I didn’t know much about it,’” Ashley said. “It really grabs their attention, and I see tears for a lot of the kids that we talk to.”

She said Emily had planned to return to Glenwood Springs to work with their mother in addiction recovery. Cath is an activities coordinator at a local recovery center.

“Her main goal was to come back here to Colorado and help people in recovery,” Ashley said.

Another key message is not to hesitate with someone who appears to be suffering from an overdose. Colorado’s 911 Good Samaritan Law protects people who are at a party and call to report a suspected overdose, even if they are underage.

“Don’t hesitate to call, even if you’re a minor under the influence; you will not get in trouble if you stay on the scene,” Ashley said.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.

New nonprofit battles opioid crisis in Roaring Fork Valley

Maggie Seldeen poses for a portrait at Crown Mountain Park during the Overdose Awareness Day event in El Jebel on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
To learn more

To learn more about High Rockies Harm Reduction’s services, its schedule of services and to donate, go to HighRockiesHarmReduction.com

A nonprofit organization formed to prevent drug overdoses in the Roaring Fork Valley region is struggling to survive a funding crisis right when its resources are needed most.

High Rockies Harm Reduction provides NARCAN and educates people on how to use medicine used to reverse opioid drug overdoses, and it also provides clean needles and safely disposes of used ones. It provides special strips for drug users to test for the presence of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug that taints everything from cocaine to pain pills and often proves deadly.

High Rockies Harm Reduction founder and executive director Maggie Seldeen has worked with other drug counseling services in the region and saw a need for a specialty service. In August she started what she calls a one-stop shop for a variety of services. HRHR also provides peer-to-peer support for drug addicts and their families. She helps people find the services they need by providing regular hours in Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Rifle.

Law enforcement and medical officials were witnessing increasing numbers of overdoses in the Roaring Fork and lower Colorado River valleys even before the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has exacerbated issues such as isolation, hopelessness and homelessness. That triggered further increases in drug overdoses nationally. There has been a huge response in harm reduction.

Maggie Seldeen holds out a box containing two Narcan nasal spray doses while demonstrating how to utilize it at Crown Mountain Park during the Overdose Awareness Day event in El Jebel on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Seldeen said the same issues that are unfolding nationally are present locally.

“There was absolutely an increase in use of all substances, including alcohol,” she said. “Talk to anyone who works in a liquor store throughout the valley, and they were doing December sales numbers throughout all 2020 after March.”

In Colorado, prescription drugs are still responsible for more overdoses than any other drug. The damage from fentanyl is gaining.

“We experienced in the state a huge increase in fentanyl overdoses in 2020,” Seldeen said. “In 2019, there were 220 fentanyl overdoses across the state, and in 2020 there were 540.”

Garfield County’s overdose deaths increased from 10 in 2019 to 11 in 2020. Pitkin County went from “non-recordable data” in 2019, which meant none or one overdose death, to five in 2020. Eagle County saw a decline in reported overdoses.

However, the deaths don’t tell the whole story. It excludes nonfatal overdoses and cases where there are “reversals” — when people experiencing overdoses are saved by use of NARCAN or other means.

“This is really just the tip of the iceberg, because we know we’re not getting the full picture of overdoses or illicit activity,” Seldeen said. “It’s very difficult to get exact numbers.”

“I know that not everyone in the valley is a millionaire and more now than ever before so many of us are struggling just to stay here. That struggle and stress just leads to use.” — Maggie Seldeen

In Basalt, High Rockies Harm Reduction provides services every other Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the office of MidValley Family Practice. Many of its clients are referrals from the clinic’s drug counseling service.

In Carbondale, Seldeen has an office at the nonprofit complex The Third Street Center.

“I am literally three houses down from the house my mother overdosed and died in,” she said. “And I’ve lost a lot of other people.”

The “Who We Are” page on HRHR’s webpage tells Seldeen’s story in blunt terms. While growing up in the Roaring Fork Valley, she became an injection drug user at age 15. Her mother was a heroin addict and died while Maggie was still a teenager.

Maggie Seldeen shows her tattoo for her mom, who died from an overdose, and her dad, who is recovering from a heroin addiction, at Crown Mountain Park during the Overdose Awareness Day event in El Jebel on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

“Maggie struggled with her own addictions for many years and now seeks to give back to the community that created her,” her profile says on the website, HighRockiesHarmReduction.com.

Seldeen, 31, puts an exclamation point on the topic in an interview.

“I really come from a place of wanting to give back to this community and assure that the experiences that I had don’t happen to youth in our community,” she said. “I know that these problems exist. I know that people are struggling in our valley. I know that not everyone in the valley is a millionaire, and more now than ever before so many of us are struggling just to stay here. That struggle and stress just leads to use.”

She’s giving back through free, nonjudgmental services, and she hopes to continue for a significant time. She knows the services are desperately needed. She needs to find the money to keep providing them. HRHR received a grant from the Colorado Health Foundation that will renew in June, and it received a small grant from the town of Carbondale. Seldeen needs additional funding sources.

““We’re in a position where we applied for a lot of funding, thought it was going to come through, it didn’t come through, so we’re not in a good position financially,” she said.

The grant applications receive high scores, but the rewarding organizations say the needs are so great right now because of COVID-19-related problems. They won’t have enough money to go around.

HRHR will reduce from two staffers to just Seldeen part-time.

“The COVID landscape has really just rattled the health fields in general,” Seldeen said. “We’re a new nonprofit, and we’re actually in a dire funding situation right now.”

scondon@aspentimes.com