Colorado is known for its pristine, rocky regoin that includes the majority of the Southern Rocky Mountains, the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. The state has exotic landscaping and is consistently recognized for its blend of mountains, forests, canyons, plateaus and plains.

At The River Source, we’ve always appreciated the unique landscape of Colorado that draws in residents who enjoy outdoor sports, camping and hiking. Nevertheless, the state is not exempt from drug probelms. Interestingly, the rate of drug-related deaths in the state is higher than the national average, with approximately 12 percent of Colorado residents reporting drug use within the last year. The national average was 8 percent. These findings come from the 2007-2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

At The River Source, we have worked with many patients from the Centennial State. Our neighboring state makes us a top choice for Colorado residents, as our patients can enjoy a quiet, secluded desert landscape while remaining close to their loved ones.

Why Addiction is Prevalent in Colorado

Colorado is synonymous with an outdoorsy lifestyle, vitality and health. The state is tied to wildlife and the great outdoors, so it’s difficult to think that within the mountains lurk serious drug and alcohol problems. Even at The River Source, we were surprised to see how many patients of ours come from Colorado. Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug, and for the 2007-2008 period, Colorado was among the top ten states in several drug categories.

Why, beneath the outdoorsy, vibrant culture of Colorado, are there so many drug problems?

The first theory is the location of Colorado. The state borders many regions, and these surrounding states have large drug problems too. For example, New Mexico is where many drugs enter the U.S. from Mexico, and some of these drugs are then moved through Colorado. There are also large cities like Denver and Boulder where drug problems exist, as well as plenty of remote locations where large parties and raves can be held.

But there’s an even deeper problem that many of our Colorado patients cite as being a root cause of drug and alcohol abuse. Colorado is a liberalized state. They have legalized the recreational use of marijuana shortly after the 2012 election, but residents agree that marijuana was pretty much legalized before then. The laidback attitude of residents and law officials has allowed the freedom for residents to smoke marijuana and drink openly. This may not affect everyone, but for our patients, this laissez-faire environment towards drugs and alcohol has led them down a path of abuse.

How Does Colorado Compare to Other States?

Compared to other states, Colorado has a very large drug and alcohol problem, and is one of the top ten states for drug abuse. One of the latest surveys conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 11.72 residents reported using illicit drugs in the past month; the national average was 8.02 percent. Additionally, 4.57 percent of residents reported using marijuana in the past month; the national average was 3.58.

In 2007, 747 people died of drug-related deaths. Drug-related deaths account for 15.4 per 100,000 people in Colorado, which exceeds the national rate of 12.7 per 100,000. Marijuana is the most widely used drug in the state; although with the recent legalization, we can no longer cite marijuana as being “illegal.” In the past years, however, following marijuana in popularity are stimulants, cocaine, heroin and other opiates. And, Colorado joins its bordering states of New Mexico and Utah in having more drug-related deaths than motor vehicle deaths.

A Close Look at the Numbers

Below is the percentage of the Colorado population using and/or abusing drugs.

Illicit Drugs Age 18+
Past Month Illicit Drug Use 1 10.89%
Past Year Marijuana Use 12.63%
Past Month Marijuana Use 8.25%
Past Month Use of Illicit Drugs other than Marijuana 1 4.44%
Past Year Cocaine Use 3.27%
Past Year Nonmedical Pain Reliever Use 5.29%
Alcohol Age 18+
Past Month Alcohol Use 64.42%
Past Month Binge Alcohol Use 2 27.76%
Past Year Dependence, Abuse & Treatment Age 18+
Illicit Drug Dependence 1 2.05%
Illicit Drug Dependence or Abuse 3.01%
Alcohol Dependence 4.01%
Alcohol Dependence or Abuse 9.88%
Alcohol or Illicit Drug Dependence or Abuse 1 11.63%
Needing but not Receiving Treatment for Illicit Drug Use 1, 3 2.72%
Needing but not Receiving Treatment for Alcohol Use 3 9.53%
1 – Illicit Drugs include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription-like psychotherapeutics that are used non-medically. Illicit Drugs Other Than Marijuana include cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants or prescription-like psychotherapeutics that are used non-medically

2 – Binge alcohol is defined as drinking five or more drinks in the same setting on at least one day in the past 30 days

3 – Needing But Not Receiving Treatment refers to the respondents needing treatment for illicit drug or alcohol use but not seeking specific treatment at a facility

Source: National Survey on Drug Use & Health, 2004 and 2005, SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies

Serious Psychological Distress 11.21%

Why Colorado Residents Should Seek Treatment in Arizona

Colorado residents who are battling drug or alcohol addiction will find the solace they need when seeking treatment at The River Source. Arizona is within close proximity to Colorado, so residents can have their families nearby. The warm, sunny desert environment is also welcoming to our Colorado residents who need a change of pace. Most importantly is that we at The River Source take drug and alcohol abuse seriously, so we will offer the best treatment and care possible. Although the attitude in Colorado toward drugs is relatively liberal, the devastating effects of drug and alcohol abuse are not.