Fighting addiction

Over 20 million people nationwide suffer from drug and alcohol abuse issues and the cost of treatment and incarceration run nearly 700 billion annually for taxpayers as stated in an article by Ashwood Recovery in Boise, Idaho. In Colorado, a person dies from drug overdose every 10 hours according to AspenRidge North, a treatment facility in Fort Collins, Colo. “Since 2005, drug overdose has been the leading cause of death, surpassing motor vehicle deaths,” said Jamie Feld, an epidemiologist with the Boulder County Health Department. Annually, over 20% of Colorado residents will use illicit drugs. This is higher than anywhere else and equates to over half a million people abusing drugs. Colorado and other states in the region have the highest death rates attribute to alcohol in the country. It’s apparent that drug and alcohol abuse is a major problem in Colorado for individuals of all ages, their families and society.

Addiction is considered a brain disease because drugs and alcohol change the brain, they change its structure and how it works. According to a recent article by National Geographic Magazine titled, ‘How science is unlocking the secrets of drug addiction; the magazine states; After spending decades probing the brains of animal and human volunteers, scientists have developed a detailed picture of how addiction disrupts pathways and processes that underlie desire, habit formation, pleasure, learning, emotional regulation and cognition. Addiction remolds neural circuits that make drugs and alcohol priority over health, work, family or even life itself.

Within Colorado thousands of people abuse alcohol, methamphetamine, opiate and prescription painkiller and become addicted.

Meth addiction remains high, with drug abuse statistics showing that over 1.2 million regularly abuse it nationwide as stated in the Ashwood Recovery article. In the past few years the trend has been down, most likely due to the presence of other more compelling alternatives, but meth related crimes among adults have tripled. It’s cheap, easy to get and highly addictive. 19.1% of all Colorado treatment admissions are for methamphetamines, that is the highest rate for any substance except for alcohol.

Governor John Hickenlooper played an active role in launching “Take Meds Seriously”, a public awareness campaign hoping to address prescription medicine abuse. A survey taken by Take Meds Seriously states that on average, 35 Coloradoans die every month from unintentional prescription drug overdoses and 224,000 people in Colorado misuse prescription medications every year. The number is decreasing due to cheaper and readily available drugs, opiates like heroin fell around 6%. It’s believed that the prescription drug crackdown forced opiate users to turn to heroin. In 2015 there was a 16% increase of deaths due to opioid overdose making the number 33,091 throughout the country, in Colorado there were 151 fatalities whereas there were 37 in 2000. In response to the crisis the first ever U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on addiction that was released Nov. 2016, it concluded that 21 million Americans have a drug or alcohol addiction, making the disorder more common than cancer.

Aside from Illegal drugs, alcohol takes a toll on Colorado residents. Alcoholism is a result of a combination of genetic, psychological, environmental and social factors. The more risk factors a person exhibits, the more likely to become an alcoholic and sometimes it’s out of a person’s control — according to Aspen Ridge Recovery. “Excessive alcohol use is a huge public health problem. It’s killing people in the prime of their lives,” said Dr. Robert Brewer of the Centers of Disease Control’s Alcohol Program. 1 out of 20 people are addicted to alcohol in the country, approximately 18% (1 out of 5) of all Colorado adults engaged in heavy or binge drinking monthly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Alcohol is the “main factor” in 2% of all deaths for Colorado adults between the ages of 20 and 64.

There aren’t specific reasons why an individual becomes addicted; often people become stressed, start drinking at an early age, have mental health problems, begin taking alcohol with medicine or have a family history of addiction. If you, or someone you care about, have a substance abuse problem — contact a professional addiction rehabilitation program today. Fighting any addiction is a battle and there are specific ways to fight it. Treating patients depends on the individuals level of addiction. If it is moderate the user could enter an outpatient program where a person is given medication from a treatment center and allowed to detox at home. For heavy user’s, treatment requires comprehensive courses of detoxification.


Resources for treatment and information:



Peaceful Spirits


296 Mouache Dr

Ignacio, Co


Southern Rockies Addiction

Treatment Services


450 Camino Del Rio #102

Durango, Co


24 Axis Health Local

Crisis Careline


1474 Main Ave

Durango, Co


Preferred Counseling



1315 Main Ave. Suite 212

Durango, Co


Detox of La Plata County


1125 Three Springs Blvd.

Durango, Co

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