Top Five Most Common Addictions in Colorado - AspenRidge

“I’m spending time on the issue because here in Colorado and across the country people…don’t realize the cost in terms of lives, health, and economics. The number of deaths that come from overdose is greater than the number of deaths that come from car accidents.”

~ US Department Of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell

Knowing the enemy is at least half the battle. While all addictions share some characteristics, the manifestation of the disease in an individual depends upon the drug of choice. Each substance can require its own particular treatment strategy and recovery plan.

The State of Substance Abuse in the State of Colorado

The residents of Colorado use illicit drugs and alcohol at a much higher rate than the national average. Most distressingly, these higher rates are across the board for both adults and teenagers. Between 2009-2013, just over 3% of all Coloradans aged 12 years or older abused or were dependent upon drugs within the past year. This number represents over 127,000 Colorado residents per year.

The national average was approximately 2.7%.

In 2013, an average of 42,256 individuals per day were enrolled in treatment for substance abuse. In 2009, that number was only 39,179 per day.

According to the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 2014 Behavioral Health Barometer

Among adolescents in Colorado 12-17 years old:

  • Past-month illegal drug use was higher than the national average, 14.4% versus 9.2%
  • That percentage represents approximately 57,000 adolescents in Colorado per year 2009-2013
  • Drug use among youths in Colorado has gone up – in 2009, that figure was 12.6%
  • At the same time, drug use among youths in the US has gone down – in 2009, the rate was 10.1%
  • Past-month underage binge-drinking in Colorado is slightly higher than the national average, 15.8% versus 14.7%
  • That percentage represents approximately 94,000 Coloradans aged 12-20 per year 2009-2013
  • Past-year first-time usage for underage Coloradans for alcohol was 11.2%, marijuana 8.5%, and the non-medical use of prescription medications 5.1%
  • Almost two-thirds of Coloradan adolescents do not believe that binge drinking twice a week is dangerous
  • Over 80% of Coloradan adolescents do not believe that there is any major risk from smoking marijuana once a month

1. Alcohol Is the Most-Abused Substance in Colorado

Between 2009-2013, 8.4% of all Coloradans age 12 years or older were dependent upon or abused alcohol within the past year. This number represents approximately 353,000 individuals per year.

During that same time-frame, 7.4% of legally-able-to-drink Coloradans reported heavy alcohol use within the past year. This number is greater than the national average of 6.8%, and represents around 268,000 adult Colorado residents per year.

Over 38% of all individuals enrolled in a substance abuse treatment plan in Colorado are there solely because of a problem with alcohol, and another 40% because of a problem with both drugs and alcohol. For comparison, less than 22% are enrolled in treatment because of a problem with drugs only.

2. Marijuana is the Second-Most-Abused Substance in Colorado

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana has the highest number of primary treatment admissions in Colorado, after alcohol.

  • For drug-only treatments, the number of admissions primarily for marijuana is just over 19% – approximately 1 in 5.
  • Over half a million Coloradans use marijuana at least once a month.
  • Colorado is second in the nation for the rate of monthly marijuana use.

3. Methamphetamine is the Third-Most-Abused Substance in Colorado

The NIDA reports that methamphetamines are the reason for more primary treatment admissions in Colorado than any other drug except for marijuana.

  • For drug-only treatments, the number admissions primarily for methamphetamines is just under 15% – more than 1 in 7.
  • Some drug treatment centers in Colorado have seen admissions for methamphetamine abuse double in the last five years.
  • Stimulant drugs – primarily methamphetamines – on the third-most cited drug category on Colorado death certificates.

4. Heroin/Opioids are the Fourth-Most Abused Substance in Colorado

The NIDA reports that the related group of drugs – heroin and other opioids (primarily prescription painkillers) together make up a significant portion of primary treatment admissions in Colorado.

  • For all treatment admissions, heroin accounts for 8.1% and opioids 7.1%.
  • Both of these percentages are slight increases from previous years.
  • Opioids are one of the most common drugs cited on Colorado death certificates.

5. Cocaine is the Fifth-Most Abused Substance in Colorado

  The NIDA reports that cocaine addiction in Colorado has steadily declined during the past five years, but it still ranks as one of the major drugs of abuse in the state.

  • Cocaine is ranked #5 in statewide treatment admissions.
  • Cocaine is the second-most common drug cited on Colorado death certificates.
  • In Denver, cocaine ranked #1 among drug reports for seized and analyzed items, at over 27%.

What Do All These Statistics Tell Us?

All of these statistics tell us that substance abuse in the form of the drug addiction and alcoholism is a real, very present reality in Colorado, and it affects every person in the state.

To put that in more concrete terms, when more than 1 out of every 7 Colorado adolescents has either used an illicit drug or engaged in binge drinking within the past month, it means that it is a virtual certainty that someone in your life – someone you know – has been seriously affected by the disease.

And, according to statistics, the problem is growing.

The same Behavioral Health Barometer indicates that only 11.4% of Colorado residents age 12 or older who have a problem with alcohol receive treatment, and only 16.1% of people with a drug problem do.

The resources are there, and recovery is possible.

If you or someone you care about has a substance abuse problem, do the right thing – the best thing – and contact AspenRidge Recovery  about a drug addiction rehabilitation program today. Do not be one of the unfortunate statistics who never asks for or receives help.


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