Colorado Addiction Treatment
Over the past decade, Colorado has struggled with a significant growth in the misuse of prescription drugs. Between 2000 and 2011, the number of deaths related to prescription drug abuse among Coloradans quadrupled.
Colorado ranks second worst in the U.S. for prescription drug abuse, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
The top five most frequently abused substances in Colorado are:
While Colorado works to crack down on prescription drug abuse, many people who are addicted to prescriptions turn to heroin. Similar to prescription painkillers, heroin is derived from opium and produces the same euphoric effect. As regulations on prescriptions tighten, heroin has become the go-to substitute. This has led to a serious heroin problem statewide, with the number of users multiplying each year.
Another unique challenge Colorado lawmakers face is marijuana abuse, as it was the first state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana. Since passing the ballot in 2012, legalized recreational marijuana has created a blurred relationship between federal regulations and Colorado laws. For now, the U.S. Department of Justice is focusing on serious marijuana trafficking and illegal possession among minors throughout Colorado.
Laws of Colorado Drug Use
Colorado drug abuse penalties come with a minimum and maximum sentence. The recommended sentencing is usually at the discretion of the Colorado courts.
The three types of punishable crimes relating to drugs involve:
- Possession: Having the substance on you or around your property.
- Distribution: Selling or helping move the drug.
- Manufacture: Producing an illicit drug.
To determine the appropriate fines and sentencing, drugs are categorized into one of five schedules based on their potential for dependency and addiction. Schedules I and II include drugs that have the highest potential for abuse with little or no known medical use. These include drugs like opiates, LSD and cocaine. On the other end of the scale, schedules III, IV and V are made up of drugs that have lower risks for dependency and approved medical uses. These include substances such as codeine, tramadol and buprenorphine.
For example, Colorado drug statutes state that a cocaine possession charge can come with six years’ prison time plus up to $500,000 in fines. Selling/trafficking cocaine, however, is a more serious offense with a prison sentence of up to 12 years and $750,000 in fines.
Drug possession charges in the state of Colorado are categorized into schedules based on their risk of addiction. Marijuana is the only exception and has its own separate regulations.
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Marijuana Laws in Colorado
Recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2012. Since marijuana is regulated and taxable, it does not fall under the same scheduling format as other drugs. Legally, Coloradans that are 21 years of age or older can possess up to one ounce of marijuana.
There are still regulations on marijuana, outlawing the following:
- Smoking marijuana in public
- Distributing marijuana
- Growing or using marijuana if you are under 21 years old
Other laws are still in place for possessing more than one ounce of marijuana. The legal charges and sentencing will vary based on the amount.
|Marijuana Amount||Criminal Charge||Potential Sentence|
|More than 1 oz. and less than 8 oz.||Class 1 Misdemeanor||6-18 months in jail and fines ranging from $500 – $5,000|
|More than 8 oz.||Class 5 Felony||1-3 years in prison and fines ranging from $1,000 – $100,000|
Addiction Treatment Laws in Colorado
One of the harm reduction laws in place in Colorado is the 911 Good Samaritan law. This law provides an immunity for minor drug possession when someone calls 911 in the event of an overdose. This is an attempt to cut down on the amount of fatal overdoses in the state.
Generally, an individual with a drug addiction cannot be forced to get treatment; however, Colorado has laws in place to help determine when involuntary treatment is necessary. Criteria for court-ordered treatment involves clear and convincing evidence that the person:
- Has a mental illness and is putting their life or others’ lives in danger.
- Is lacking judgement and the capacity to understand that safety is endangered.
Although Colorado does not provide financial assistance for addiction treatment, many recovery facilities accept different forms of health insurance to help reduce the costs. Other rehab centers may also offer low-cost options or even provide free drug treatment for people living in low income areas that are often more susceptible to addiction and drug abuse.
Drug Court in Colorado
In 2001, Colorado introduced drug courts in an effort to focus on integrating substance abuse and mental health treatment. Rather than probation or jail time, the program offers drug offenders a comprehensive recovery program and funds up to 50 percent of the treatment cost. Drug court helps individuals overcome an addiction with the help of supervision and judicial oversight.
Drug court is made up of three phases, each lasting approximately 90 days:
- Phase I includes required intensive treatment, community service, drug and alcohol monitoring, meetings with the drug court Probation officer and appearances at drug court reviews.
- Phase II involves additional intensive treatment, community service, and drug and alcohol monitoring.
- Phase III is the completion of treatment and community service. Meetings with the drug court probation officer and court appearances are reduced in frequency.
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Treatment Centers in Colorado
There are a variety of treatment centers available in Colorado, including inpatient rehab facilities. Inpatient programs tend to last for 60-120 days and treatment is completed in a residential recovery facility. Some Colorado inpatient treatment centers are also now offering specialized services for the growing number of marijuana addictions.
The Harmony Foundation is just one of the many successful drug and alcohol treatment centers in Colorado. The facility spreads over 43 acres in the Rocky Mountains and offers a comprehensive recovery program consisting of inpatient rehab, group and individual therapy sessions, medication-assisted therapy and support groups.
When reviewing drug treatment options, it’s important to consider both in-state and out-of-state facilities. While in-state programs are closer to home, out-of-state centers allow you to keep a distance from toxic relationships and habits. Out-of-state programs also provide you with a better opportunity to focus on healing yourself. Staying in-state may cause you to constantly think and worry about things going on at home.
An out-of-state treatment center may prove more successful for long-term recovery. Weigh the advantages of both out-of-state and in-state programs to before making a decision.
Contact a treatment provider for information that can help educate you about rehab and your options.