DENVER — As Colorado works to confront its drug crisis, those impacted by it are speaking out about the accessibility, danger and recovery that coincides with addiction.
One man in his early twenties spoke to Denver7 on the condition of anonymity. He's been sober for 13 months after battling addiction for nearly a decade.
"I was about 14 or 15 when I started using opiates and got addicted," he said
He explained that it all began with a prescription for migraines. From prescription pills, he progress to heroin and then to the synthetic opioid, fentanyl.
"I was using about 10 [fenatnyl] pills a day," he said. "If I could get more, I would use more, honestly."
The dangers of fentanyl-laced drugs were highlighted over the weekend after five people died in Commerce City after ingesting cocaine laced with fentanyl. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
"It just kind of made my heart sank ... it made my heart break," the young man said about those who passed in Commerce City.
In and around Union Station, Denver7 Investigates captured images of people smoking substances out in the open. Experts told Denver7 the images depicted fentanyl-use.
On Thursday, the Denver Police Department announced officers arrested 42 people in a sweep of Union Station. The young man in recovery told Denver7 it's easy to find fentanyl and other drugs around Union Station's bus terminal.
"It's about anywhere between $10 a pill ... to $30 a pill if they're trying to sell it to us as real oxycodone, but normally it's about $10," he said.
He added that Broadway & Colfax is another location for easy drug access.
The risk of fentanyl being laced into drugs is what he really wants to warn the world about.
"Drugs are not safe in Denver right now," the man said. "I had a lot of close calls the last year of my use."
As efforts to clean up illicit drug use continue, he said he hopes equal effort is put into supporting recovery resources.
"I think that's the most important thing," he said. "More social outreach, more community programs. You know, that's been huge for me."
He said his family and Valley Hope of Parker have been instrumental in his journey to sobriety.
"I feel like I'm finally moving in the right direction for the first time in my life, you know," the man said with a smile. "I'm thinking about going back to school, and I'm just excited for the future."
For those seeking resources to overcome addiction, click here.