The World Health Organization has identified addiction as an international health epidemic. Substance abuse trends in Fort Collins, Colorado reveal the city of 161,000 is no exception. Drug abuse and alcohol addiction are very real problems in Fort Collins. Although there are a number of drug and alcohol addiction resources in Fort Collins, CO; substance abuse trends indicate the addiction problems that currently plague the city are only expected to get worse.
A Brief History of Fort Collins
Situated at the base of the Rocky Mountain foothills, Fort Collins is steeped in a rich history that dates back to the 1850’s. Originally founded as a military outpost for the U.S. Army in 1863, Fort Collins was decommissioned as a military installation in 1867. Soon after, it became a booming community of settlers looking for a place to call home. After a significant increase in population in 1872, Fort Collins began to see major developments in the area. Commercial and residential structures were erected and the one-time Army base became a major hub for people from all over the Western United States. Today, Fort Collins encompasses an area of about 47 square miles and has become a place of prosperity and continued growth. People come from around the world to visit Fort Collins to ski, take part in winter sports, and enjoy the cool and refreshing summers. With neighboring cities like Loveland, Masonville, Nunn, and LaPorte; Fort Collins, Colorado is the fourth most populous city in the state, reporting approximately 2,500 people per square mile. The city is home to Colorado State University and was named “America’s Best Place to Live” by Money Magazine in 2006. It is important to understand this history when discussing addiction trends in Fort Collins, CO. It wasn’t that long ago that Fort Collins was without its addiction problems. The settlers of yesteryear could have never predicted Fort Collins would one day become a hotbed for drug and alcohol addiction. With substance abuse rapidly increasing in recent years, it is difficult to imagine what the city will be like in 20 years if the current cycle of addiction continues.
Overview of Addiction Statistics in Fort Collins, CO
Fort Collins is still considered a beautiful, safe, and serene place to live. People enjoy the scenic views and picturesque landscapes, the quaint culture, and the unique way of life offered in Fort Collins, Colorado. However; like every other prominent city in the United States, drugs are quickly infiltrating the area. The city is seeing more drug-related overdoses and deaths, more arrests for illegal drugs, and more crime fueled by drug addiction. Just 65 miles from Denver, many of the illegal drugs found in Fort Collins have been brought in from the Mile High City. Denver is a hotspot for drugs like heroin, cocaine, opiates, and methamphetamines and traffickers bring these drugs to Fort Collins. Drugs are also being brought in from other areas. Colorado is intersected by eight major freeways that run across the United States, including I-15, I-90, and I-70. These super highways make it easy to smuggle drugs into the city of Fort Collins, CO, which is why Fort Collins has become a major distribution point for illegal drugs. To better understand just how pervasive the addiction problem is in Fort Collins, here are some important statistics about addiction in Colorado:
- Heroin in Fort Collins is cheaper than legal opiates sold on the street. One legal painkiller like Oxycontin (sold illegally) can cost $80, but a single dose of heroin is sold for as little as $10.
- The heroin death rate in Denver is six times what it was in 2004. Most heroin in Fort Collins comes from Denver.
- From 2011 to 2013, 86 percent of overdose-related ER visits in Colorado were caused by prescription opiates.
- In the past six years, arrests for possession of methamphetamines in the Denver area have increased more than 140 percent.
- Alcohol is the number one abused drug in Colorado. Approximately 9 percent of all Colorado residents reportedly have an alcohol problem.
- More than 500,000 Colorado residents abuse marijuana every month.
- Stimulants like methamphetamines are the third leading cause of drug-related deaths in Colorado.
- Approximately 14.4 percent of Colorado adolescents aged 12-17 reported using drugs in the past month. The national average is 9.2 percent.
- Many addiction treatment centers in Colorado report a five-fold increase in the number of admissions for methamphetamine addiction in the past five years.
These statistics are disturbing. Let’s learn more about substance abuse trends in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Fort Collins, Colorado Substance Abuse Trends
Since marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2012, there has been a notable shift in the drug culture in The Centennial State. Legalizing marijuana has led to an increase in the number of people who are using and abusing the drug. Because there is no fear of legal repercussions, more and more people are toking the stuff. Plus, marijuana is now readily available for sale in Colorado. People over the age of 21 can go into a marijuana dispensary and legally purchase the drug, which makes it much more accessible than it was when it had to be purchased on the streets. Marijuana is the most commonly abused illegal substance in the world and it is the most commonly used illegal drug in Fort Collins. Another way the legalization of marijuana has changed the drug culture in Fort Collins, CO is that it has reduced the number marijuana-related arrests and subsequent legal court cases. Law enforcement agencies no longer have to focus their efforts on busting marijuana growers, smokers, and traffickers. Because marijuana is legal, emphasis is now placed on the regulation and taxation of marijuana. This frees up law enforcement to concentrate on the consumption and trafficking of more harmful substances like methamphetamines, heroin, and opiates. Because law enforcement is now able to put greater energy into seizing these types of drugs, we are seeing more arrests for possession of these types of substances. This is not to say there is less meth, coke, heroin, or opiates on the streets. Quite the contrary. A 2014 report issued by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released some vital information about substance abuse trends in Colorado which suggest that addiction is on the rise. Studying addiction trends is especially important because it allows us to better understand which drugs are infiltrating which areas and how an increase in availability is affecting drug users. Based on treatment admissions data, hospital visits, availability, and the National Survey for Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), NIDA reports the following substance abuse trends in Colorado, which directly affect Fort Collins:
- Alcohol causes the most substance abuse related deaths in Colorado.
- Alcohol is the leading cause of treatment admissions.
- There has been a decrease in the use of cocaine in Colorado, with the number of treatment admissions for cocaine dropping from 7.3 percent in 2012 to 5.5 percent in 2013.
- Cocaine is the third leading cause of treatment admissions.
- There has been an increase in the use of prescription opiates, which were named the world’s second most trafficked drug, after marijuana; which ranks number one.
- Heroin is the fourth most popular drug in Colorado for treatment admissions.
- Surprisingly, marijuana is the leading cause of treatment admissions for drugs, accounting for more than 18 percent.
- NIDA’s report also indicated upward trends for meth, meaning the drug is more available, has a higher level of purity, is less expensive, and is causing more and more overdose-related deaths.
What Addiction Research Reveals About Fort Collins, CO
Addiction research in Fort Collins reveals that addiction will continue to surge the city for years to come. In fact, the problem of addiction in Fort Collins is not only expected to endure; it is expected to worsen with time. This situation is not unique to Fort Collins. The addiction epidemic is a worldwide problem and as the years pass, we are seeing more people becoming addicted to drugs. In no uncertain terms, Fort Collins, Colorado is seeing a dangerous increase in addiction issues. This not only affects the individuals who become addicted to drugs or alcohol, it also affects families, employers, communities, and society at large. It is important to understand the full picture of addiction when studying addiction trends, so let’s dig a little deeper. As demand for drugs increases in Fort Collins, a series of negative consequences ultimately follow. Let’s examine a few of these consequences. With increased drug abuse comes increased crime. Addicts steal to support their habits. Alcoholics drive drunk and put the safety of everyone on the road in jeopardy. People who are intoxicated are more likely to be violent, which leads to an increase in domestic violence, child abuse, and stranger-on-stranger assaults. A person under the influence of drugs or alcohol is more likely to cause property damage and vandalize. In terms of drug-related crimes that happen as the result of addiction, the list goes on and on. These activities severely diminish the general feeling of safety in Fort Collins. With increased drug abuse comes gang violence. If you think there are no gangs operating in Fort Collins, think again. Gang activity is almost always behind the trafficking and sale of illegal drugs. Reports indicate the presence of criminal enterprises such as gangs and organized crime units are on the rise in Colorado and the Fort Collins area. This will lead to an increase in violence as rival gangs fight for territory. As gang activity increases, chaos and mayhem in otherwise good and decent neighborhoods is sure to follow. With gangs on the loose, Fort Collins isn’t safe. With increased drug abuse comes a deterioration of the family unit. When parents are abusing drugs or alcohol, they cease to be good parents. Neglect and abuse often become the norm. When children are abusing drugs or alcohol, their negative consequences deeply affect their parents. As we know, addiction breeds selfishness. The addicted person only cares about their next fix. This comes at the expense of the family unit and can lead to financial devastation, legal consequences, and other unbearable scenarios. When there is an addict in the house, the safety of the entire household is at stake. Finally, with increased drug and alcohol abuse comes a decrease in productivity. As more people become addicted to drugs, less and less work is getting done. People who go to work under the influence demonstrate a lack of productivity, which negatively impacts employers and can lead to the total degradation of a professional organization. Not only does substance abuse affect productivity in the workplace, it makes for an unsafe work environment. In short, drug addiction erodes the safety of the individual, the family, the workplace, and the community.
Alcohol Abuse in Fort Collins
Alcohol addiction has been a major problem worldwide for more than a hundred years. It has only been in the past 50 years that we have really begun to see drug addiction take hold. We have talked at length about the drug problem in Fort Collins, but it is important to recognize that alcohol addiction in the city is equally problematic. Alcohol is the leading substance abused by people in Fort Collins. It is reported that more than 350,000 Colorado residents currently have a problem with alcohol but choose not to get treatment. When most people check themselves into a treatment facility in Fort Collins, it is for alcohol abuse. Alcohol addiction is among the deadliest addictions because alcohol is a highly addictive substance. Generally, someone with an addiction to alcohol has to commit to a detox program and inpatient treatment to successfully withdraw from alcohol. This is because alcohol withdrawal can be lethal. It’s no wonder the city of Fort Collins, Colorado is home to so many alcoholics. The city promotes an atmosphere that encourages drinking. There are dozens of microbreweries in Fort Collins and the city is proud of its beer-crafting capacity. Also, Fort Collins hosts the annual Colorado Brewer’s Festival where thousands of people from all over to take to the streets and celebrate the mass consumption of beer and alcohol.
What’s the Explanation Behind Current Substance Abuse Trends in Fort Collins, CO?
We know that addiction is taking the world by storm and we know that Fort Collins is no exception. The question is, why? Why is addiction spreading like wildfire? This is an excellent question. Unfortunately, even leading addiction experts who study the social, criminal, and medical elements of addiction are baffled when it comes to finding a legitimate answer. They are particularly uncertain as to how to solve the addiction problem. Nevertheless, let’s try and crack the code to see if we can at least try and explain how addiction is becoming so pervasive in the United States. First, another little history lesson. In the 1970’s, former President Richard Nixon named drug abuse as public enemy number one, explaining that the spread of addiction would ultimately lead to the demise of the country. As a result, Nixon declared America’s War on Drugs. Then, former President Ronald Reagan took office and kicked the “war” into overdrive. Reagan set out to eradicate drug addiction by attacking the supply of illegal drugs from other countries to the United States. He also instituted harsh mandatory drug sentences for people who were caught with just a small amount of illegal substances. Today, we know we are failing the War on Drugs, although the federal government has yet to fess up to its abysmal failure. The government allocates billions of dollars for the enforcement of drug laws, rather than spending that money on resources to educate people about addiction and treat the problem. Approaching addiction as a criminal problem has only made the matter of addiction worse. For starters, punishing addicts for having disease of addiction is insane. We are sick, not bad, people. However; when you arrest someone for being addicted, you have labeled them as “bad.” This kicks off a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. “I use drugs because I am bad. I am bad, so I might as well use drugs.” The cycle of addiction continues when people buy into the lie that they are bad people. Instead of receiving compassionate care for an addiction problem, people will just continue to “go on being bad.” There is a stigma attached to being an addict, which only perpetuates the cycle of addiction. Let’s be honest. Another reason addiction is becoming more prevalent in cities like Fort Collins is that drugs make people feel good. Depression, anxiety, mental illness, and general unhappiness are at an all-time high in the United States. People use drugs and alcohol to numb their own pain. The tricky part is that mood and mind-altering substances work at first. Most people who become addicted remember the first time they used drugs. They report that when they first used, they thought they had finally found a solution to their ultimate problem – themselves. In the end, however; addiction always leads to devastating consequences, which ultimately bring the addicted person to his or her own knees. So, people start doing drugs to make themselves feel better. Ultimately, they find out that addiction leads to bad places. Once they get into the bad places, they are afraid to get help because society has stigmatized them and labeled them as bad. The cycle continues.
Addiction Treatment in Fort Collins
Although addiction might be sweeping the city of Fort Collins, it won’t take over the city without a fight. There are several different ways to get clean and sober in Fort Collins if you have a substance abuse problem. Fort Collins offers a number of detox programs, inpatient treatment facilities, outpatient services, and 12-Step meetings to counteract the devastating effects of addiction in the area. Treatment is available for anyone who wants to get help for an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Depending on what substance you have been using and for how long, you may have to go through a detox program to safely and successfully withdrawal from your drug of choice. However; this is not always necessary. Many people choose to attend an outpatient program or simply begin attending meetings at a 12-Step fellowship. Recovery is the solution for an addiction to alcohol or drugs. If left untreated, addiction always gets worse – it never gets better. Think you can quit cold turkey? Chances are, if you have a drug or alcohol problem, you have already tried to quit on your own and failed. This is because addiction is a brain disease, not a matter of willpower. Many people mistakenly believe that the inability to stop using alcohol or drugs is a moral failing. This is simply untrue. The American Medical Association classifies addiction as a disease. It is progressive, chronic, and fatal. Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction requires professional help or the strong support of a 12-Step fellowship. There is no shame in being an addict. If your addiction to drugs or alcohol is running your life into the ground, it is not because you are a bad person. It is because you are a sick person who needs help.
Do You Have a Substance Abuse Problem in Fort Collins?
If you live in the Fort Collins area and you are battling an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication; help is available. You don’t have to waste one more day of your life struggling to break the cycle of addiction. A substance abuse problem only gets worse without treatment – it doesn’t just go away. Getting help for your addiction to drugs or alcohol is the best decision you can make for yourself. Millions of addicts and alcoholics have found freedom from the bondage of addiction and you can too. Do you want to find out if you have a problem with drugs or alcohol? Take this addiction quiz and find out if you need to addiction help.