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New Film "Devastated" details the deadly fentanyl epidemic and calls Coloradans to action


By BRIAN PORTER |

Rocky Mountain Voice on X


Overdoses believed to be driven largely by fentanyl-laced prescription drugs are setting records annually.


The death count once was similar to the capacity of a high school classroom

 each week, marking the third largest cause of pediatric deaths behind firearm-related injuries and motor vehicle collisions, a report by UCLA Health reads. It has now grown beyond that analogy.

The drug often kills those experimenting with it for the first time, with the Centers for Disease Control finding 86 percent of those adolescents dying of a fentanyl overdose had not previously experienced a drug overdose, according to a report in The Free Press.


Introduction of Fentanyl has been especially devastating in Colorado, where the Department of Public Health found in 2021 there were more than 900 deaths, and from 2020 to 2021 there was a 70 percent uptick in fentanyl deaths, according to a CBS News report.

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An effort to share personal stories of tragedy related to fentanyl use and seek solutions will hit theaters this coming week. The film “DEVASTATED: Colorado’s Fentanyl Disaster"

will premiere in four select theaters from May 15-17.


“Devastated” details how fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for Americans 18 to 45 years of age. The Drug Enforcement Administration calls the fentanyl epidemic “the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced,” the film’s website reads. The film is funded by Weld County rancher Steve Wells.


“I funded the film because someone had to do something. I believe we can fix this, but it’s going to take a lot of resolve and courage to stand up and do the right thing,” said Wells. “But everyone — from parents to kids, teachers to politicians — have to get educated about just how deadly this drug is. It’s like swallowing a hand grenade in a tiny pill form.”


The film ‘Devastated’ takes an in-depth look into the stories of parents who have lost children to fentanyl poisoning, perspectives of law enforcement and elected officials, and the perspectives of recovering addicts and a fentanyl dealers, among others. Though the film focuses on Colorado, it is emblematic of what every state in the country is experiencing today, the film’s website reads.


“I’ve never encountered something in my law enforcement career where I feel I was so overwhelmed,” says Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams in the film’s trailer.


While one youth shares his position that law “must be fixed” to address fentanyl, Republican Sen. Byron Pelton responds, “the state legislature just has no interest in doing that”, and Republican Rep. Richard Holtorf says “I’m fed up” in the film’s trailer.


To Pelton’s point, he joined in legislation this year with Rep. Mike Lynch to increase the penalty for possession of fentanyl and other opiates. House Bill 24-1306, which aimed to make no level of fentanyl possession lawful, not only did not pass the Democrat-controlled legislature, it did not advance out of the House Judiciary committee. That means it never arrived in the upper chamber.


To provide another perspective on the deadly epidemic, the filmmakers compare legislators “accepting” the deaths of 6-9 adolescents a day dying to fentanyl to loading a large school bus every week with youth never to return.

“Fentanyl is killing an entire generation and seemingly nothing is being done. We decided we would!,” the film’s website reads.


“We’ve been asked, ‘Well how bad can it be?’,” said Steffan Tubbs, director of the film and President, CEO and Founder of Mountain Time Media. “It was so devastating to one family [in Denver] that it took out a billboard to remember their daughter. We hope you will join our crusade, our efforts.”


Two of the four premiere showings are sold out. Seating remains for two others: at 7 p.m. May 16 at Cinemark, 1700 29th St., in Boulder, and at 3 p.m. May 18 at Cinemark Tinseltown, 1545 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd, in Colorado Springs. Visit DevastatedCo.com

 for information on those showings or other opportunities to see the film.


“If we can get someone — anyone — to discuss the fentanyl epidemic with others after seeing this film, we’ve accomplished our goal,” Tubbs said.

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