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Colorado Substance Use Statistics and Addiction Treatment Options

Colorado’s beautiful mountain ranges and heavily forested hillsides draw people from around the country. Sprawling urban areas and an increasingly diverse culture mean people from all walks of life enjoy living in Colorado.

However, the state sees high substance use rates for multiple drugs, including heroin, prescription opioid painkillers, and methamphetamine. Fortunately, Colorado drug and alcohol addiction treatment is available to help a person overcome addiction to these and other drugs.

Heroin Use And Overdose Rates In Colorado

As of 2018, Colorado is no longer among the top ten states for substance use rates, slipping to 12th nationwide. Despite this, the state’s battle against the opioid epidemic continues on. Heroin and prescription opioid painkillers continue to drive this crisis, with fentanyl and carfentanil use also on the rise.

The Heroin Response Work Group, a Colorado task force created to assess the extent of the heroin problem in the state, compiled a report with the following findings:

  • The number of heroin-related fatalities doubled between 2011 and 2015
  • From 2010 to 2015 the number of children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a disorder resulting from maternal opioid use during pregnancy, increased by 83 percent
  • Between 2011 and 2015, the number of arrests for heroin rose by 515 percent. In that same time frame, heroin seizures increased by 2,035 percent

Colorado Opioid and Meth Overdose Rates

Between 2000 and 2015, there were 10,552 drug overdose deaths among Colorado residents. Many of these fatalities resulted from opioid use. Colorado saw a three-fold increase in opioid-related overdose deaths during that 15-year time period.

In 2017, the number of drug overdose deaths continued to climb, reaching its highest point yet with 959 fatalities. While opioids took a large number of these lives, the drug most responsible was meth.

Specifically, in 2017:

  • The number of methamphetamine deaths rose 196 percent to 280 deaths
  • The number of fentanyl deaths rose 50 percent to 75 deaths
  • Opioids were responsible for over half of the overdose deaths
  • Though down from the previous year, heroin was responsible for roughly a fifth of the fatalities

Benzodiazepines, cocaine, and alcohol also frequently rank high for drug-related overdose deaths in Colorado.

Teen Substance Use In Colorado

Federal data shows that, since marijuana was legalized, adolescent marijuana use has reached its lowest rate in roughly a decade. Teen alcohol and heroin use have significantly declined as well.

Despite these positive trends, it’s critical that young people have the support of their families and communities so they can build successful lives abstinent from drugs and alcohol. Because even with this decline, Colorado youth continue to use many dangerous drugs. The Colorado Youth Survey reports that teens use the following substances most frequently:

  • alcohol
  • marijuana
  • prescription painkillers
  • prescription stimulants
  • meth

Preventing and monitoring teen drug use is a top priority for any state. Reducing drug and alcohol use at young ages can help to reduce the likelihood of a person developing a substance use disorder as an adult.

Colorado’s Addiction Education And Outreach Programs

In response to recent trends, Colorado has established several initiatives aimed at preventing substance use in both the adult and adolescent populations. These include:

  • The Heroin Response Work Group: This joint effort between state and national officials works to improve relationships and communication between law enforcement, addiction treatment, and public health entities. The group’s primary goal is to reduce the number of drugs on the market by targeting the supply of heroin and other opioids.
  • The Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Use Prevention: This group has partnered with other organizations to fight the opioid epidemic in Colorado. Together they launched the campaign, which offers education and resources to help residents of Colorado protect themselves against prescription drug misuse and use. The campaign’s key messages include safe use, safe storage and safe disposal of prescription medications.
  • The Colorado Meth Project: This prevention program utilizes community outreach programs, public policy and public service messaging to help reduce methamphetamine use statewide.
  • Rise Above Colorado: This organization aims to change the attitudes and perceptions of teens regarding drug use, while also empowering them to make healthy decisions that support a drug-free life.

Colorado Addiction Treatment Programs

Intervention Services

While some individuals freely admit that they have a problem and willingly accept help, others are consumed by denial. These individuals may require additional assistance to help them begin the treatment process.

Intervention services can help a person’s friends and family members during this critical time. A professionally led intervention is safer for everyone involved and is almost always far more effective than a family-led intervention.

Initial Patient Assessment

Just as recovery is a process, so is treatment. Seeking individualized treatment and research-based therapies ensures that person receives quality, comprehensive care.

Individualized treatment plans begin with a clinical assessment. This evaluation examines the severity of the drug addiction and the scope of damage it’s inflicting on a person’s life. This assessment will also help treatment providers to determine the most appropriate therapies and treatment length.

An assessment can also identify the type of care that will more readily help a person achieve their recovery goals. Through this evaluation, an individual may also determine that they feel more comfortable seeking specialized care, such as in a gender-specific treatment program or one that is faith-based.

Identifying Co-occurring Disorders

Addiction and mental health issues often go hand-in-hand. Whether mental health issues led to substance use or the other way around, the initial assessment determines what areas of a person’s life need to be addressed during treatment.

If, in addition to a substance use disorder, a person also has a co-occurring disorder such as anxiety or depression, this evaluation will help treatment providers outline dual-diagnosis care. Colorado treatment programs for co-occurring disorders address both the substance use disorder and any mental health issues to give a person the best opportunity for stable, long-lasting recovery.

Many dual diagnosis programs also offer trauma-informed care for individuals who have experienced traumatic events like use or violence.

Length of Addiction Treatment

The length of treatment varies, and it can be influenced by a person’s obligations, finances and the nature of their addiction. Short-term treatment is available, with options including 28– 30-day programs as well as 60-day programs. Long-term treatment has the highest success rate, and programs may last 90 days to a year or more.

Drug And Alcohol Detox Programs In Colorado

To prepare a person for addiction therapy, treatment is often begun through a medically supported detoxification program in Colorado.

Compulsive drug use, one of the characteristics of addiction, is driven by physical dependency. Once a person is dependent on a substance, their brain operates more normally with the drug than without it, and withdrawal symptoms will begin if the substance is withheld.

Individuals addicted to alcohol, benzodiazepines and opioid drugs frequently face strong physical dependencies. These chemically dependent states can lead to painful, dangerous and, in the case of alcohol and benzodiazepines, potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

Without targeted, medically based treatments and highly trained support, the risk of medical complications and relapse during withdrawal is much higher. Selecting a professional, medical detox program helps to protect a person from these risks, while also preparing them to begin intensive addiction therapy.

Colorado detoxification services are generally not sufficient to produce long-term sobriety on their own. Addiction impacts a person far beyond physical dependence, and drug and alcohol addiction treatment that addresses the underlying causes of addiction is an essential part of long-term recovery.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

In many cases, Colorado detox clinicians will administer medications to alleviate or prevent withdrawal symptoms. For heroin or prescription painkiller addictions, this frequently includes the use of buprenorphine medications like Suboxone.

Medication-assisted treatment combines medications with behavioral therapies. The goal of this dual approach is to treat a person’s mental and emotional health in combination with medications that prevent withdrawal and decrease cravings.

Residential Inpatient Drug And Alcohol Treatment In Colorado

Colorado inpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs offer treatment services for all the forms of addiction that Colorado residents experience. Individuals seeking recovery from a methamphetamine or opioid addiction can access comprehensive treatment tailored to these addictions.

Typically, inpatient drug rehabilitation is the best line of defense against addictions of any kind. A residential treatment program allows a person to be completely immersed in the treatment process while receiving round-the-clock support. By stepping away from the day-to-day stressors and temptations of regular life, many people are more freely able to commit to their recovery.

Inpatient programs also give a person more time to work on the important recovery principles that are foundational to their success after treatment. The best treatment programs also offer aftercare and alumni support. These services may include mentorship programs and access to recovery support services.

The Role Of Outpatient Care In Colorado Drug Treatment

Outpatient programs may be integrated into a person’s treatment plan. In most cases, these services are not recommended as standalone treatments for addiction. Instead, they’re often used to support a person as they transition from a fully supported residential program back to independent life.

These options include intensive outpatient programs and outpatient programs. Other individuals may choose to live in a sober living community to help them remain drug-free and supported in their recovery goals.

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Colorado Addiction Treatment Therapies

Many types of therapy are available within addiction treatment programs. Evidence-based therapies frequently draw upon behavioral therapies, such as motivational interviewing or dialectical behavior therapy. Individual and group therapy sessions help people learn to reduce destructive thoughts, control negative emotions and change the behaviors that perpetuate drug use.

In therapy sessions, a person has the opportunity to learn versatile coping, communication and relapse-prevention skills. In addition to these therapies, a program may integrate twelve-step therapy or a family therapy and support program.

Many Colorado addiction treatment facilities are diversifying their programs by offering a variety of alternative treatments. These may include complementary and alternative medicines such as yoga, massage, and art therapy. Other programs offer therapies centered around the outdoors that challenge and renew a person’s spirit, such as adventure or wilderness therapies.

Paying For Colorado Drug Rehab

As a person is deciding what type and length of treatment to pursue, it’s important to consider finances. Private drug and alcohol rehab facilities can be costly, however, many individuals find that they’re able to make the most of their out-of-pocket contributions by using their insurance coverage or facility-offered financing options.