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Drug Addiction in Colorado
outpatient drug rehab centers

Drug Addiction in Colorado

Drug addiction in Colorado is a growing trend. Crystal meth and heroin are two of the drugs that are seeing an increase in use. Both of these drugs are highly addictive and can lead to short-term and long-term effects.


While several drugs are continuing to be popular in street drug addiction in Colorado, cocaine has seen a decline. Online 5.5 percent of admissions to treatment centers were from cocaine abuse in 2013, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. However, it is still a serious problem, being ranked third in hospital discharges in the Denver area for substance abuse.

Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant found in South America. It’s often mixed with other products, and is seldom in its pure form by the time it reaches the end user. It can be snorted, injected or even dissolved in water. Crack is one form of cocaine, which is also known as freebase.

People who abuse cocaine experience euphoria and an increase in energy. The drug can also raise the blood pressure and heart rate, which increases its risk. The drug impacts the central nervous system by preventing the recycling of dopamine and allowing a large build-up of this chemical and disrupting normal brain function. The result is the “high” users experience for a short period of time.

Symptoms of cocaine abuse include increased temperature, dilated pupils, and headaches. It can decrease appetite and cause abdominal pain. Serious effects include heart attacks or strokes.



Heroin is another common street drug of choice in Colorado. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it increased to 9.1 percent of total treatment admissions in 2013 in Colorado from 7.6 percent in 2012.

Heroin is made from the poppy plant, along with morphine and other opiates. It can be inhaled, injected or smoked. This drug is highly addictive and addiction may occur even from a single use. Heroin is converted back to its state as morphine once it enters the brain. It connects to receptors to reduce the perception of pain. It also creates a euphoric feeling. Heroin overdose occurs because these same receptors control blood pressure and respiration. Heroin can suppress breathing to the point of inducing a coma or even causing death.

Heroin can lead to several long-term health problems, including hepatitis and HIV because of sharing needles. Collapsed veins and kidney and liver disease are also the results of long-term use.

When the drug isn’t in the system, several unpleasant side effects occur. They include restlessness, insomnia, vomiting, muscle pain, bone pain, cold flashes, and an intense craving for the drug.


Crystal Meth

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has shown that methamphetamine is the third most abused drug according to treatment admissions in Colorado. They have just over 16 percent of all admissions for 2013, which is up from just over 14 percent from 2012.

Crystal meth is a form of methamphetamine which is illegal and highly addictive. It impacts the central nervous system and is a powerful stimulant. This drug can be inhaled, injected and smoked. Someone abusing crystal meth may exhibit a wide range of symptoms, including the following:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Heavy sweating
  • Sleeplessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Paranoia
  • Performing repetitive tasks to the extreme
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors

In addition, a person may appear anxious, depressed, or fatigued. They may show violent behaviors and extreme agitation.

When a person takes crystal meth, it interacts with the cardiovascular and central nervous system and impacts the dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels in the brain. This drug is highly addictive and can cause long-term effects. A person may experience damage to the eye, mood disorders, loss of teeth, and other permanent damage.

Treatment Options

All of these addictions can be treated, but they require professional help. An inpatient or residential facility is the best option for anyone who wants to begin recovery. The first benefit is that the addict has help through detox, which is extremely painful if attempted alone. In fact, it can be dangerous to try to detox without professional intervention.

In a facility, medications can be given to help reduce the severity of the side effects from detox. In addition, the person may be given a prescription medication to help prevent relapse. Because these drugs are so highly addictive, relapse rates are quite high without professional help.

Once detox is complete, the addict will continue treatment to learn about addiction and how to identify triggers. They will learn how to avoid relapse and develop positive coping mechanisms. Some addicts will go on to follow up with outpatient programs such as halfway houses or sober living homes as they transition back to a normal life.

Many outpatient programs exist to help the person maintain sobriety for the long term. An example is the 12-step program Narcotics Anonymous. Some of these are lifelong programs to help prevent relapse even years down the road.

When considering a program to overcome a street drug addiction, you want to compare their treatment options. Some provide inpatient treatment for a few weeks while others have programs lasting several months. They often include alternative programs in addition to the standard treatments available. You can also look for treatment centers that provide assistance with getting the person back on their feet, such as developing job skills or helping with education.

Get the Help You Need

If you or a loved one suffers from some type of illicit drug addiction, seek help right away. No matter how long you’ve been using, you can begin the road to recovery. You can prevent further long-term damage by getting the help you need. No matter whether you’re using cocaine, heroin, crystal meth or some other illicit drug, treatment centers can provide the assistance you need to become clean and healthy. Find help for your struggles with addiction and practice lifelong sobriety for a peaceful recovery. Start living your life to the fullest.