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Colorado ranks sixteenth in the nation with regards to the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs. Just like the rest of the United States, the State of Colorado has a significant—and growing—problem with prescription drug abuse.

In fact, according to the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy, over 255,000 Colorado residents over the age of 12 misuse prescription medications every year. That is more than 1 out of every 16 people.

Even more tragically, on average, at least one Coloradan dies every day due to a fatal prescription drug overdose, per statistics released by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.

The Prescription Drug Crisis In Colorado

Since 2000, 10,544 Colorado residents have died via overdose. To put that number in perspective, that is roughly the entire population of Castle Pines in Douglas County or Glenwood Springs in Garfield County- or Alamosa in Alamosa County.

Try to imagine that for a moment — an entire city's worth of lives lost, all because of preventable fatal drug overdoses. To get a better understanding of the problem, let's take a closer look at some of Colorado's prescription drug abuse statistics.

Prescription drugs are medications that you are given by your doctor or dentist. In terms of medications with a high abuse potential, there are three main types. They include opioid painkillers (OxyContin, Vicodin, fentanyl), benzodiazepine tranquilizers (Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Restoril), and ADHD stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin.

In 2016, Colorado overdose deaths involving all opiates - including both prescription opioids and heroin -were lower than they had been in 6 years - dropping from 472 deaths in 2015 to 442 deaths last year. While that may seem to be just a modest 6% decrease, keep two things in mind.

First, any downturn in opioid-related deaths is a major accomplishment. In 2000, there were only about 60 recorded fatal opioid overdoses in Colorado, and the number of deaths has climbed sharply ever since.

Second, the biggest reduction in opioid deaths was realized with prescription painkillers such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone. In 2015, those kinds of medications killed 259 Coloradans, but that significantly decreased in 2016, to 188.

That is an encouraging 27% year-over-year decrease. Once upon a time - as recently as 2010-2011 - Colorado ranked a lofty second in the country for the misuse of prescription opioid painkillers. Now, the state ranks somewhere closer to the middle. That is promising progress.

But as the success of the efforts aimed at curbing prescription opioid abuse is realized, a new, unforeseen, and potentially even more dangerous consequence has arisen - heroin abuse and overdose deaths are skyrocketing in the state of Colorado.

  • Between 2011 and 2015, the number of heroin seizures in Colorado increased 2035%
  • At the same time, the amount of heroin seized increased 1562%
  • Heroin-related arrests increased 515%
  • From 2001 to 2016, heroin deaths in Colorado spiked 756%
  • In Denver between 2002 and 2016, heroin-related deaths rose by 933%

Heroin-related deaths were highest among the 25 to 34-year-old demographic. Within that age group, heroin kills more Coloradans than prescription opioids. However, take note that most heroin addicts only started using the drug because they were unable to access prescription opioids.

First-responder use of the anti-opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone increased 240 percent. The number of Colorado residents in treatment for heroin addiction increased 128 percent.

7 out of 10 people in drug rehab in Colorado for heroin abuse report that they first abused opioid painkillers, but then switched to heroin because it was cheaper and easier to obtain.

The increased demand for heroin in Colorado has led to a massive increase in the available supply, most of it flowing in from Mexico, and that has made prices drop. In 2013, a gram of pure heroin in Denver would cost an addict an average of $308, but by 2015, the price had fallen to $123.

From 2013 through the first quarter 2017, more than 36 million prescriptions were written for Colorado residents. Approximately 56% of those were for opioids. That equates to over 20 million opioid prescriptions dispensed in Colorado in a little more than 4 years.

Based on Colorado's population, that means there were enough painkiller prescriptions written during that span to give 3 out of 4 state residents their own personal bottle of opioids.2014-2017, nearly 60% of opioid patients were female.

Across all age groups, Colorado women have higher rates of hospitalization due to prescription opioid poisoning. The highest rate is among women age 65 and older.

This last statistic highlights the fact that Colorado women face greater risks from opioid drugs than men, because while women are hospitalized for opioid poisoning at higher rates, it is men who have greater rates of overdose from any drug.

Here's the scariest fact - a 12-year study reports that nationally, 91% of patients who suffer a nonfatal opioid overdose continue to be prescribed opioids. 70% of those still receive painkillers from the same doctor they were using before their overdose. Not surprisingly, patients who continue to take opioids after their overdose are twice as likely to overdo again within 2 years.

But when you are talking about prescription drug abuse, you might be surprised to learn where addicts actually get their drugs. According to the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, among people who abuse prescription medications:

  • 11.4% purchased them from a family member or friend
  • 17.3% are prescribed them from just one doctor
  • 4.4% purchased them from a drug dealer or stranger
  • 4.8% stole them from a family member or friend
  • 55% got them free from a family member or friend

One popular misconception is the mistaken idea that the misuse of medications isn't really drug abuse - that prescriptions are somehow safer than illicit street drugs. On the contrary, almost 60% of fatal drug overdoses involve prescription medications.

Addiction Treatment In Colorado

Fortunately, the state of Colorado has numerous types of rehab in place. There are many types of treatment centers such as long term addiction treatment facilities, short term drug abuse treatment, outpatient detoxification programs, outpatient substance abuse treatment services, inpatient drug abuse treatment and others.

There is a vast range of drug and alcohol rehab facilities available. They include individual psychotherapy, dialectical behavior therapy, couple/family therapy, trauma therapy, trauma-related counseling, cognitive/behavior therapy and others, to name a few. If you need rehab in Colorado, place a call to any of the available rehab centers.

CITATIONS

https://bringnaloxonehome.org/colorado-celebrates-first-naloxone-awareness-month/

https://takemedsseriously.org/resources/about/

https://www.aspenridgefortcollins.com/recovery-blog/21-colorado-addiction-facts-may-surprise/

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs/article/colorado-community-reference-guide-prescription-drug-abuse-prevention-released

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/PW_Colorado-Plan-to-Reduce-Prescription-Drug-Abuse_0.pdf

https://www.cpr.org/2019/06/10/prescriptions-fall-14-as-colorado-doctors-cut-back-on-opioids/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/colorado-opioid-summary

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Colorado Drug Rehab by Cities

Agate Aguilar Akron Alamosa Allenspark Alma Almont Amherst Anton Antonito Arapahoe Arboles Arlington Arriba Arvada Aspen Atwood Ault Aurora Austin Avon Avondale Bailey Basalt Battlement Mesa Bayfield Bedrock Bellvue Bennett Berthoud Bethune Beulah Black Hawk Blanca Boncarbo Bond Boone Boulder Branson Breckenridge Briggsdale Brighton Broomfield Brush Buena Vista Buffalo Creek Burlington Burns Byers Cahone Calhan Campo Canon City Capulin Carbondale Carr Cascade Castle Pines Castle Rock Cedaredge Centennial Center Central City Chama Cheraw Cherry Hills Village Cheyenne Wells Chromo Cimarron Clark Clifton Climax Coal Creek Coaldale Coalmont Collbran Colorado City Colorado Springs Commerce City Como Conejos Conifer Cope Cortez Cory Cotopaxi Cowdrey Craig Crawford Creede Crested Butte Crestone Cripple Creek Crook Crowley Dacono De Beque Deer Trail Del Norte Delta Denver Dillon Dinosaur Divide Dolores Dove Creek Drake Dumont Dupont Durango Eads Eagle Eastlake Eaton Eckert Eckley Edwards Egnar Elbert Eldorado Springs Elizabeth Empire Englewood Erie Estes Park Evans Evergreen Fairplay Federal Heights Firestone Flagler Fleming Florence Florissant Fort Collins Fort Garland Fort Lupton Fort Lyon Fort Morgan Fountain Fowler Franktown Fraser Frederick Frisco Fruita Galeton Gardner Gateway Genoa Georgetown Gilcrest Gill Glade Park Glen Haven Glenwood Springs Golden Granada Granby Grand Junction Grand Lake Granite Grant Greeley Green Mountain Falls Greenwood Village Grover Guffey Gunnison Gypsum Hamilton Hartman Hartsel Hasty Haswell Haxtun Hayden Henderson Hereford Hesperus Highlands Ranch Hillrose Hillside Hoehne Holly Holyoke Homelake Hooper Hot Sulphur Springs Hotchkiss Howard Hudson Hugo Hygiene Idaho Springs Idalia Idledale Ignacio Iliff Indian Hills Jamestown Jaroso Jefferson Joes Johnstown Julesburg Karval Keenesburg Kersey Kim Kiowa Kirk Kit Carson Kittredge Kremmling La Jara La Junta La Salle La Veta Lafayette Lake City Lake George Lakewood Lamar Laporte Larkspur Las Animas Lazear Leadville Lewis Limon Lindon Littleton Livermore Log Lane Village Loma Lone Tree Longmont Louisville Louviers Loveland Lucerne Lyons Mack Manassa Mancos Manitou Springs Manzanola Marvel Masonville Matheson Maybell Mc Clave Mc Coy Mead Meeker Meredith Merino Mesa Mesa Verde National Park Milliken Minturn Model Moffat Molina Monarch Monte Vista Montrose Monument Morrison Mosca Nathrop Naturita Nederland New Castle New Raymer Niwot Northglenn Norwood Nucla Nunn Oak Creek Ohio City Olathe Olney Springs Ophir Orchard Ordway Otis Ouray Ovid Padroni Pagosa Springs Palisade Palmer Lake Paoli Paonia Parachute Paradox Parker Parlin Parshall Peetz Penrose Peyton Phippsburg Pierce Pine Pinecliffe Pitkin Placerville Platteville Pleasant View Poncha Springs Powderhorn Pritchett Pueblo Ramah Rand Rangely Red Cliff Red Feather Lakes Redvale Rico Ridgway Rifle Rockvale Rocky Ford Roggen Rollinsville Romeo Rush Rye Saguache Salida San Luis Sanford Sargents Sedalia Sedgwick Seibert Severance Shawnee Sheridan Lake Silt Silver Plume Silverthorne Silverton Simla Slater Snowmass Snowmass Village Snyder Somerset South Fork Springfield Steamboat Springs Sterling Stoneham Strasburg Stratton Sugar City Swink Tabernash Telluride Thornton Timnath Toponas Towaoc Trinchera Trinidad Twin Lakes Two Buttes U S A F Academy Usaf Academy Vail Vernon Victor Vilas Villa Grove Vona Walden Walsenburg Walsh Ward Watkins Weldona Wellington Westcliffe Westminster Weston Wetmore Wheat Ridge Whitewater Wiggins Wild Horse Wiley Windsor Winter Park Wolcott Woodland Park Woodrow Woody Creek Wray Yampa Yellow Jacket Yoder Yuma

Find Resources

If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is imperative that you look for professional help as soon as you possibly can. However, you might not know where to start or the options that are open to you. Similarly, you may have little to no idea about the differences between the different treatment facilities and the programs they have in store for their patients.

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