‘Devastated’ Is the Wake-Up Call We Need

'Colorado's Fentanyl Disaster' is playing out in a neighborhood near you

Fentanyl isn’t just a Colorado problem. It’s everywhere, and by all reasonable measures, it’s getting worse.

Devastated: Colorado’s Fentanyl Disaster” zeroes in on the blue state for a (mostly) apolitical look at the roiling crisis.

Soft-on-crime policies can’t help but elbow their way into the documentary, but the stories of young lives lost to the crisis keep the emphasis where it belongs.

Something must be done. And soon.

Trailer- DEVASTATED: Colorado's Fentanyl Disaster- Trailer

“Devastated” opens with a harrowing 911 call.

Five Colorado residents died from taking Fentanyl, a ghastly primer for the crisis in play. We hear from law enforcement, drug counselors, coroners and others on the front lines of the losing battle.

Fentanyl is wildly addictive, fatal in tiny doses and lurking in pills that trick unsuspecting users. Forget crack and Meth. This Opioid is the mother of all drugs, courtesy of Mexican drug cartels too eager to make a profit.

There’s a China connection, too, although that angle isn’t explored in great depth.

The film deftly balances first-person testimonies, statistics and strong visuals to make the case for action. Most of all, we meet the families who lost loved ones from the drug.

Steffan Tubbs (“Denver in Decay”) floods the screen with home movies of those gone too soon, youthful faces brimming with potential.

They’re gone, all gone, and more will join them shortly.

Fentanyl: Why are so many Americans dying from synthetic opioids? - BBC News

“Devastated” strains to leave politics off screen. The filmmakers tried to interview both Denver Mayor Mike Johnston and Gov. Jared Polis.

Both declined.

Their absence speaks volumes, but the blame often falls on both parties in both Colorado and D.C. An early clip shows a Republican and Democrat joining forces for legislation to defang Colorado drug laws.

Tubbs, formerly a right-leaning talk show host as well as fair and balanced news anchor, can’t help but pin some of the problem on what’s briefly referred to as “one-party rule.” Colorado may have been purple in the recent past, but it’s cobalt blue in 2024.

Who else deserves the blame, especially given the chaos in blue-controlled cities nationwide?

FAST FACT: The CDC says Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and is illegally added to other drugs to make them “cheaper, more powerful, more addictive and more dangerous.”

The Fentanyl crisis could fuel a 10-part docu-series, but “Devastated” proves both efficient and comprehensive. We learn how social media connects teens to the drug, how our porous southern border makes matters worse and the most ghoulish part of the cartel’s mindset.

For every Coloradan who dies from Fentanyl, another 10 customers replace them.

“Devastated” could use a slight trimming, and a few early anecdotes add little to the subject in hand. Otherwise, the documentary moves briskly, balances powerful interviews with chilling facts and is never less than absorbing.

And, sadly, all too necessary.

HiT or Miss: “Devastated: Colorado’s Fentanyl Disaster” is a cultural battle cry to do something, anything to stem the flood of Opioids into the country.


  1. Since 1971 approximately 2 Trillion dollars has been spent in the war on drugs. Yet according to the Center for Disease Control deaths from drug overdoses continue to climb. In 2022 107,941 died, that is 1 every 5 minutes on average, and this does not reflect the 100’s of thousands dying of other addiction related causes and co-occurring illnesses.

    The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported in America in 2022, 48.7 million people aged 12 or older (or 17.3%) had a substance use disorder (SUD) in the past year, including 29.5 million who had an alcohol use disorder (AUD), 27.2 million who had a drug use disorder (DUD), and 8.0 million people who had both an AUD and a DUD. In 2022, 97.5% of people aged 12 or older with a substance use disorder did not receive any treatment. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act the Addiction Treatment Industry nationwide has grown into a $40 Billion+ business (plus another $160+ Billion in healthcare costs), yet despite this staggering outlay today in America the #1 killer of adults under 50, according to the Department of Justice, is addiction.

  2. Addiction Thinking

    How someone can rationalize repeatedly using intoxicants, aware of the possible deadly consequences or incessantly engage in behavior (sexual, gambling, DUI, etc.) that places everything in their life at risk, to the rational individual, is truly baffling. Those addicted to Heroin will lament how they “hate” kicking (detoxing), never wanting to do it again since the experience is so unbearable and painful (think of the worst case of the flu with severe body aches you have ever had and multiply by 2 or more and you have a rough approximation of the experience) but when asked how many times they have detoxed, the answer, typically, is “I don’t know, too many.” Being fully aware of the consequences, would someone rational purposely subject themselves to an experience they “hate” repeatedly, say like volunteering for a needless root canal or IRS audit? Let alone something potentially deadly? Of course not, that would be irrational.

    Yet this is the mindset of individuals who suffer from addiction. Repeating the same action expecting a different result demonstrates a base form of insanity. Yes, it is strong language but how else would you describe someone who after being repeatedly arrested for driving under the influence, incurring large financial and personal consequences, continues to drink and drive? The Opioid addict who was literally just brought back to life by a timely dose of NARCAN ® (Naloxone HCl), their first action to make sure no one used the rest of their drugs or if they came to in a hospital take the first opportunity to leave AMA (Against Medical Advice) to return to using the same drug which put them there in the first place! Or the individual who completes a professional treatment program, frequently costing over 100,000 dollars, after a 90 day (depending on their insurance) stay relapses often within days after “graduating.” From experience, having worked with thousands of individuals over the past 35+ years both as someone in recovery and a recovery professional, the above examples are unfortunately typical.

    When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Education, though important, has proven not to be the overriding answer, while CBT(Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), DBT(Dialectical Behavior Therapy), EMDR(Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) are effective professional treatment modalities along with Psychotherapy, as currently employed have all largely failed, principally because they are not scalable, i.e. Healthcare Providers do not cover these modalities beyond the end of the professional treatment cycle. Another contributing factor is the gulf existing between the professional treatment community and the outside recovery communities of AA, NA, etc. Due to built-in limitations and restrictions inherent in both, as well as some cooked in institutional prejudice coupled with a culture-based unwillingness to change or adapt, strikingly prevalent in the outside recovery communities, no genuine path exists to bridge between them. While the professional community’s hands are tied due to the constraints of Insurance Providers and HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) guidelines, many in the outside recovery communities remain fixated on a single path, disparaging other paths or modalities often making individuals who come to the Fellowships from professional treatment feel unwelcome, running truly contrary to the dictum all should hold dear: “first, do no harm.” Mix in the brokers and treatment centers on the professional side whose only interests are financial, with little or no regard for suffers or recovery, tainting all in the professional sector, providing fodder for the negative narrative in the outside recovery communities and the reasons for today’s abysmal long-term recovery rate (20% according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, though many believe it closer to 10%) and the high chronic relapse rate comes into focus.

  3. There is a drug abuse industry in place, who dedicate all of their time and energy into making money off of other people’s pain and need. When one dangerous drug is identified and stopped (such as oxycontin), they find another to distribute. Far too many people look to drugs, medications and pills in their search for peace.

    The answer is to recognize that everything you’ve ever needed already exists within you, eternally. We learn peace, joy and forgiveness by teaching them, for these are the very treasures of Christ Himself, which are fully available to everyone. Discover this and I promise you, your cup will always be full.

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