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Substance Misuse & Overdose Prevention

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International Overdose Awareness Day is Monday, August 31

When we take extra time to remember the people we have lost from overdose. It’s also a reminder that this is one of the most preventable deaths there is. The number one way you can help a family member or friend who uses opioids is to get naloxone (Narcan) and learn how to use it.

Find out about naloxone and where to get it at, which lists pharmacies that stock naloxone in Denver (there may be a cost associated based on health insurance). There is a standing order for pharmacies, so you do not need an individual prescription to receive it from a pharmacy. Or, for more information on how naloxone works, visit

Photo of Mayor Michael B. Hancock speaking at an Overdose Awareness Day event

Substance misuse and overdose are an increasing community health concern across the city of Denver. The DDPHE Community & Behavioral Health division is the coordinating agency addressing opioid and other substance misuse in Denver. The division utilizes a collective impact model to engage stakeholders across disciplines to achieve a common goal.

Information on the installation of sharps disposal kiosks and select Syringe & Medication Collection

The rising opioid epidemic in Denver necessitates a coordinated and comprehensive response that draws on the expertise of service providers, policymakers and systems-level actors. The response must allocate sufficient resources for the delivery of individual services and for the alignment, coordination and systems development that will ensure those services have the maximum impact.

Denver’s Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) initiated a collective impact process to coordinate the multi-sectoral efforts underway to address the opioid epidemic. The Collective Impact Group (CIG) is also working closely with leadership at the state level and in various other areas in Colorado, Seattle/King County, San Francisco, and Vancouver to benefit from lessons learned and common approaches to reducing opioid misuse.

Learn more about Denver's Collective Impact efforts below:

Photo of syringe disposal kioskDenver Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) recently completed the installation of four sharps disposal kiosks to address the issue of discarded syringes in public spaces. They are ready for use and are located as follows:

  • Fire Station 4 at 19th and Lawrence
  • Governor’s Park at 7th and Logan
  • Lincoln Park at 13th and Osage
  • McIntosh Park outside of the Webb Building

The kiosks are part of our harm reduction effort outlined in Denver’s first-ever Opioid Response Strategic Plan (PDF). Providing secure, contained, and accessible disposal sites for sharps is a sensible step toward eliminating discarded syringes in our parks, in the public right-of-way, and in other public spaces. Having kiosks in four accessible and well-lit locations will provide more opportunities for sharps disposal.

We want to encourage all community members to feel free to utilize the kiosks for their syringe disposal needs. The kiosks can accept small containers with sharps inside, like from a neighborhood or park clean up. We have heard from many neighborhood groups that they would like to know where they can safely dispose of sharps collected at neighborhood clean-up events – this is becoming a common volunteer activity around town, and it increases in popularity in the summer months. We encourage those who use syringes for medical conditions such as hormone injection, diabetes or MS, or who provide medication to pets to use the kiosks for their syringe disposal.

“Sharps” includes needles, syringes, lancets, and auto-injectors, all of which can be discarded in a sharps disposal kiosk. Used needles and other sharps are dangerous to people and pets if not disposed of safely because they can cause injury and spread infections that may result in serious health conditions. The most common infections are Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

When discarding sharps, never place loose needles and other sharps (those that are not placed in separate sharps disposal containers) in a household or public trash cans or recycling bins, and never flush them down the toilet. Doing so puts sanitation workers at risk during collection rounds, at sorting and recycling facilities, and at landfills. Syringes can also become lodged in equipment, forcing workers to remove them by hand. Children, adults, and even pets are also at risk for needle-stick injuries when sharps are improperly discarded at home or in public settings.

The large chute on the kiosk ensures all needles, syringes, and containers can be deposited without the ability to be retrieved.

The kiosks will be maintained and emptied by a professional contractor with oversight from Denver Public Health & Environment.

How to use a sharps kiosk:

  • Household use/community clean-ups
    • Multiple used sharps should be stored in a sharps disposal container, and the container can be placed in the syringe disposal kiosk. This works well for those who have syringes at home and/or for those doing community clean-ups. Multiple syringes can be placed inside a sharps disposal container, and the entire container can be placed inside the kiosk for disposal.
  • Single syringes can be placed directly into the kiosks.
  • We ask that only sharps are placed in the syringe disposal kiosks.

Please note*: Pet owners who use needles to give medicine to their pets should follow the same sharps disposal guidelines used for humans.

Locations and Information for Medication Disposal:

Regional Syringe Access Programs


The presence of fentanyl has led to epidemic levels of overdoses in other parts of the country, including New York City.

Be careful! Learn more about Fentanyl.

Contact the Substance Use
Resource Coordinator

Marion Rorke, MPH
Office: 720-865-5453
Mobile: 720-422-1617

Crisis Services

If you are, or someone you know is, in need of confidential and immediate mental health, substance use, or emotional help, please visit Colorado Crisis Services online, call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text "TALK" to 38255 to be connected to a crisis counselor or trained professional with a master's or doctoral degree.

Interpretation services are available for non-English speakers. Help and hope are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

If you are, or someone you know is, experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please call 9-1-1.

Additional Resources


Media Relations

Ann Cecchine-Williams
Interim Communications Director

Tammy Vigil
Manager of Media Relations


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