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Colorado Drug Abuse

In Colorado, statistics vary widely with regards to area when it comes to drug abuse and addiction. Alcohol and illicit drug use as well as the abuse of legal prescription drugs are on the rise in most areas. Amid some mixed reports, marijuana abuse is clearly a concern in the Boulder/Denver areas as well as most parts of the state, whether rural or urban.

Likewise in the Denver/Boulder areas, opioid treatment admissions have continued to rise. This trend holds true statewide as well. Heroin treatment admissions showed a fifty percent increase from 2010 to 2011, according to the most recent numbers available from NIDA.

The same source reports that after alcohol, marijuana has continued to result in the highest number of primary treatment admissions in Denver and statewide in Colorado annually.

"There is increased crime, sometimes violent crime, associated with legalization of marijuana," according to George Brauchler, District Attorney of Arapahoe county. "That's not what you'd expect. You'd expect the harder-core drugs." ... "If cash is the only way to acquire marijuana, crime follows cash." Brauchler believes the legalization of marijuana is partly to blame for a statewide rise in crime. "It is easier for there to be black market in a legalized system than there was before," he said.

In Colorado, deaths from drug overdose top the national average. And according to the Arapahoe County's coroner, three quarters of the cases involve prescription pain killers. Twelve counties in CO have among the highest drug overdose rates in the country.

The CDC states that the drug overdose crisis is among the top four epidemics facing the United States. This problem is, by statistics, on par with cancer, obesity and heart disease. In the most recent year where the data is collected, 900 people died of drug overdoses in Colorado.

Patients with prescriptions to powerful opioid pain killers such as oxycodone or hydrocodone underestimate their addiction potential. Doctors too often do not spend the time to sufficiently educate their patients in the dangers of what they're taking. The US consumes around 80% of the world's opioids.

In Colorado as elsewhere, this isn't primarily because of the over prescription of opioid pain killers. It also has a lot to do with drug diversion. When a pain killer is prescribed, it's not uncommon for the pain to subside before the prescription runs out, so there are left-over pills in the medicine cabinet.

Along comes Junior, he sees these left-over pills. Then he hears about their effects at school or on the internet. So the pills begin to disappear, slowly at first and then, as his dependence develops into addiction, they run out.

These are valuable on the streets as well, so if the kid or other family member doesn't become dependent personally, they could find that the pills bring a nice price. This is called drug diversion and is fueling much of the destruction we're talking about.

Illicit Drug Use in the Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older in Colorado, by Substate Region: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2010, 2011, and 2012 NSDUHs (Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health)

During the 1st half of 2013, meth admissions represented 16.7 % of all Colorado treatment admissions (a rise from 14.3 % of total statewide admissions in the first half of 2012).

Colorado State Government Agencies

Drug Abuse Facts

Drug Abuse Information

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