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Denver’s Sexy Pizza & Non-Profit Train to Prevent Overdoses

by Demarco Moore

August 2, 2022
A person lays on the floor holding a syringe after a drug overdose

Sorting Through Colorado’s Unpredictable Drug Supply

Whether it’s benzos, the slang name for strong sedatives, or opioids (prescription pain killers), fentanyl has made Colorado’s drug supply more unpredictable than ever before. More than 900 people in Colorado died from fentanyl-related overdoses in 2021, sparking debate over criminal penalties and access to addiction treatment. One of the recent changes aimed at reducing overdoses in the Centennial State was the passing of the Fentanyl Accountability And Prevention Act, which went into effect July 1st. 

With help from the Harm Reduction Action Center (HRAC), Denver food chain Sexy Pizza is hoping to reduce overdoses by stocking its locations with Narcan, the medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. In an interview with Colorado Public Radio, Kyle Peters, director of operations at Sexy Pizza, said the NY-style pizza chain received advice from the HRAC on how to store Narcan and get trained on how to administer it.

“When they brought the opportunity to get trained and have Narcan in our restaurants, it was kind of a no-brainer,” Peters said.  “We’ve actually experienced an overdose at our Capitol Hill location.”

A Sexy Pizza employee in Denver reaches for Narcan in the first-aid cabinet

Denver food chain Sexy Pizza stores Narcan, an overdose reversal medication, in its first-aid cabinet. (Photo by Denver 7 ABC)

Drug use in Business Bathrooms

Peters said the overdose happened a few years ago, in the restaurant’s bathroom. People who abuse drugs prioritize business bathrooms because of the privacy they provide. It’s a way for them not to get caught with drugs in their homes or cars, and offers some anonymity. Business bathrooms also give drug users access to sterile water.

Peters said the staff didn’t have the training to handle the overdose, and had to wait on paramedics to provide the Narcan.

“My delivery driver at the time, he’s the one that found the person overdosing in our bathroom,” Peters said. “The paramedics showed up in time. They obviously had Narcan on them, and then were able to revive and help this person out.”

Peters said the Narcan is conveniently stored in the first-aid kit cabinet. Lisa Raville, executive director at the Harm Reduction Action Center, is hoping that helping to stock the restaurant with the overdose reversal medication will empower Sexy Pizza employees to save a life and make a large pizza.

“We want to make sure that baristas, who are really one of the true first responders along with folks at Sexy Pizza, know how to recognize and respond,” Raville said. “It can be so scary.”

Find Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

Landmark Recovery of Denver is Colorado’s newest drug and alcohol addiction treatment center. We provide programs that address opioid-use disorder (OUD). If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to opioids or other substances, call 720-702-9994 to speak to a member of the admissions team. Our confidential phone line is open 24/7.

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About the Author

Demarco Moore

Demarco Moore

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Demarco Moore currently writes blogs about drug addiction treatment and recovery to help save lives at treatment provider Landmark Recovery. Before that, he cut his teeth as a sports writer at the Manchester Times, where his coverage and stories won Tennessee Press Association awards in 2016 and 2017.

He’s always had a knack for storytelling. Moore’s written content for junior golf tournaments and helped to amplify the “People Not Profits” message of credit unions. When he’s not writing, Moore loves to travel, laugh and put his mental health into the hands of the Tennessee Titans during football season.