Colorado Alcohol and Drug Use Statistics
In 2021, 16% of adults in Colorado say they used drugs (excluding cannabis) for non-medical reasons.1
5% of men admitted to using drugs, while nearly 14% of women used drugs.
24% of black residents reported using drugs, while 16% of white and Hispanic residents used drugs.
People earning less than $25,000 per year had higher rates of drug use than those with higher incomes.
16% of high school graduates reported using drugs, compared to 19% with college education.
In 2021, about 19.7% of adults in Colorado reported excessive drinking, including past-month binge drinking or heavy drinking. This figure was above the national average of 17.6%.2
Nearly 27% of adults between 18 and 44 engaged in excessive drinking.
Almost 23% of men engaged in excessive drinking, compared to 16.6% of women.
Multi-racial, white, and American Indian/Native Alaskan residents reported nearly equal rates of excessive drinking at around 22%.
People who made $75,000 per year or more engaged in the most excessive drinking behaviors.
How Much Does Rehab in Colorado Cost?
Addiction treatment costs are variable. Luxury rehabs with resort-like amenities can cost tens of thousands of dollars. More typical inpatient programs are less costly, and outpatient programs may be even more affordable. The final price tag for Colorado drug rehabs will depend on multiple factors, including:
- Whether the program is inpatient or outpatient
- The location of the program
- Which insurance plans the program accept
- What special amenities the program provides
- Duration of treatment
Inpatient programs tend to have higher costs. Staying on-site for treatment requires paying for housing and meals, as well as the counseling and medical care associated with treatment. Different facilities have different pricing scales depending on what services and amenities they include. Outpatient treatment is less expensive because it does not include housing or certain medical services.
If you are concerned about your ability to pay for Colorado alcohol rehabs or drug rehabs, look for free, low-cost, or sliding scale facilities. Some treatment centers will allow you to arrange payment schedules to pay for your care in installments.
How to Find Low-Cost and Free Rehabs in Colorado
Colorado does not directly operate any rehab facilities. The state provides oversight and financial support to private and non-profit programs that offer treatment to people who are uninsured or underinsured.3 The state has a searchable database of treatment programs that is free to access.4
The state’s Medicaid program is called Health First Colorado.5. It covers substance use treatment, including inpatient detox. Contact Health First directly to learn if you are eligible for coverage.
Do Medicare and Medicaid Cover Drug Rehab?
Medicare and Medicaid offer coverage of at least some rehab services.
If you need inpatient treatment, Medicare Part A covers that, and patients pay the same co-pays as other types of hospitalization.3 Medicare Part B will pay for outpatient treatment.4 If you have a Medicare supplemental plan, you may be eligible for more extensive coverage for treatment.
Not all facilities accept Medicare, so you will need to verify the facilities that do before choosing your rehab program.
Medicaid also covers substance abuse, but each state designs its own benefit structure. Colorado’s Medicaid plan is called Health First Colorado.5 The plan offers comprehensive coverage of substance use treatment with no limits and no co-pays.
Health First eligibility is determined by household income level. In Colorado, the eligibility threshold is 133% of the federal poverty level. Individuals who are pregnant or have a disability are also eligible for the program.
Does Private Insurance Cover Addiction Treatment?
Addiction treatment is a covered service under the Affordable Care Act. All private insurance plans must offer coverage of rehab services. The amount of coverage varies by plan. Some may offer comprehensive coverage where your out-of-pocket costs will be minimal. Other plans are more limited. Talk to your insurance company to learn more about your coverage options. Some details to discuss include:
- Your deductible amount
- Any co-pay amounts
- What types of rehab are covered (inpatient or outpatient)
- Which facilities are part of the insurance company’s network
- If any types of treatment are excluded
The Rehab Process: What to Expect
Recovery from addiction is a life-long process. The first weeks in intensive treatment will set you up for success, but you may rely on those support systems for years to come. After rehab, you may benefit from ongoing therapy, peer support groups like AA, and lifestyle changes to minimize the likelihood of relapse.
Medical supervision during detoxification is often valuable. Some substances, such as benzodiazepines, have fatal withdrawal symptoms if you quit cold turkey. Medical staff can help you safely wean yourself off the drugs. The withdrawal from other drugs may not pose an immediate mortal danger, but medical staff can help manage detoxification symptoms and address any complications.
In some cases, it may be appropriate for doctors to prescribe medications to ease the process of withdrawal. The physical detoxification symptoms are very unpleasant, and many people experience cravings that are very difficult to manage. Medications moderate the physical and emotional side effects to ease the process of withdrawal.
The types of medications available for detoxification depend on what types of substances you are using. Methadone and buprenorphine are helpful for people who have been abusing opioids. They mitigate the body aches, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting that accompany withdrawal. You can stay on the medication for weeks, months, or years if necessary.
People who have a history of stimulant abuse may benefit from antipsychotic medications. The use of stimulants can result in brain changes and symptoms of psychosis. A doctor will assess your progress to determine if the brain changes are permanent and what long-term treatment you may need.
Medication to ease you off addictive substances is part of a comprehensive rehab plan, not a substitute for treatment. Addiction therapy and treatment for co-occurring mental health conditions will help get to the root of addiction and pave the way for long-term recovery.
Inpatient Drug Rehab in Colorado
Inpatient treatment is rehab where you live on the premises for the duration of your program. You may start in a hospital or medical to detox, then move over to the recovery program. Treatment usually lasts 30, 60, or 90 days though some programs can be longer.
The core of any treatment program is counseling. Most facilities rely on evidence-based treatment methods. You will have a daily schedule of supervised activities and therapy sessions. Counseling may include a combination of activities, including:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Peer support
- Relapse prevention planning
- Medication oversight
- Aftercare planning
Inpatient treatment has a reputation for being the gold standard of recovery care. Many programs work with hospitals to provide seamless care starting with detoxification. Once you’re in the recovery phase of treatment, the staff offers comprehensive support, including overseeing arrangements for discharge and return to daily life. Many programs offer continued counseling options after you leave inpatient care.
Being in a residential facility cuts back on opportunities for relapse during the early weeks of recovery. During treatment, patients can get away from work, school, and family responsibilities and focus solely on recovery. Programs may have counseling or education opportunities for family members to prepare them for the changes necessary to maintain long-term recovery.
After completing inpatient rehab, you may still want or need active support for your recovery. You can arrange for step-down care to ease back into life after being in a residential program. Depending on your personal situation, you might go into one of several types of aftercare.
Standard outpatient treatment, Regular outpatient programs consist of three-hour sessions, three days per week, though you may attend more frequently as needed. Some programs have day and evening options that allow you to work on recovery while maintaining your school or work schedule.
Some people begin rehab in outpatient programs. People who prefer to live at home and have adequate support from friends and family can benefit from these programs. There is no single path to recovery, and each person can choose what works best for them.
Intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment (IOPs), These outpatient programs are less time-intensive. The program may track your progress on staying sober or clean as well as how well you’re balancing your other responsibilities. You may spend fewer hours per week in the program as time goes on.
Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), These are sometimes called day programs. You will be living at home but spending a large portion of the day at the treatment center for continued therapy. Many of the programs will be similar or the same as programs at an inpatient rehab.
Aftercare and Relapse Prevention
Once you have completed rehab, you should make sure you have support for continuing your progress. Recovery is a long-term process, and continued support will make it easier to achieve your goals. Many treatment programs will help you create a plan for yourself, so you can take charge of your care after you leave treatment. These plans should take your family, job, and schools into account. Your counselor can go over all the aspects of your life and help you make a personalized plan.
Some treatment centers offer long-term aftercare programs to help you maintain your recovery and avoid relapse. The number of hours per week may vary. This is a program you can continue to attend for months or years.
Some people benefit from staying in a sober living facility. These are homes where several people who have completed rehab live together. The intention is to learn to be independent in a supportive environment. There are varying levels of oversight from counselors.
Peer support groups like AA or NA are helpful for people who prefer the 12-step recovery model. If you would rather have a different peer support approach, Smart Recovery is a group that focuses on encouraging positive behavior changes.
In the event that you have a “slip” or relapse, you can call on your aftercare network for help. Slips are common, and it’s not a sign of failure. Reach out to your counselor or group leaders to ask for help. They will work with you to get the additional help you need to resume recovery.
Choosing the Right Colorado Rehab for You
Choosing a treatment program is a personal decision. You should look for a facility that has an approach that matches your personality and values. You may want to consider the amenities or activities that the program offers.
You may look for a holistic rehab program that addresses emotional, spiritual, and physical balance as well the issues associated with addiction. Programs like this might offer treatments including acupuncture, massage, yoga, meditation, or hypnotherapy.
If your faith is very important to you, you may want a treatment facility that allows you to work within the structure of your beliefs. Faith-based rehab programs may center treatment around spiritual principles and offer opportunities for worship and prayer.
If cost is not an object and you are looking for an extra degree of comfort and privacy, you can explore luxury rehab programs. These facilities boast resort-like amenities such as private bedrooms, gourmet dining, top-of-the-line fitness programs, swimming pools, spa services, and high-end outings. They may be located in idyllic locales such as ski areas or on large properties with extensive privacy measures.
If you have work responsibilities that you can’t put on hold, you might benefit from an executive rehab. Executive rehab programs cater to people who can’t disconnect from their careers. They allow clients to maintain contact with work and may even allow business travel.
What to Look for in a Quality Treatment Program
Here are some essential qualities to look for before committing an addiction treatment program:
It is important to check on the accreditation and licensing of any program. Make sure that it complies with state or local regulations on rehab facilities so that you can be sure it is safe. Check to see if the facility is accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities or the Joint Commission.
Make sure that the program uses evidence-based treatment methods. Look for widely respected therapy modalities such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and contingency management programs.
Credentialing of Staff
Many rehabs have staff listings that explain what training and certifications staff members have. Staff should have professional training in the type of therapy they provide. Medical and nursing staff should be certified by their respective professional boards.
Utilizing Individualized Treatment Plans
There is no single treatment plan that works for everyone. High-quality treatment centers evaluate each participant individually. From there, they should make a treatment plan that addresses the patient’s specific needs.
Paying for rehab is a significant commitment, even if insurance covers some of the costs. Some centers offer sliding scale fees or payment plans to make affording care less of an obstacle.
On-site Medical Care
If you need to undergo medical detoxification or have other medical needs, look for a rehab with adequate facilities. Some treatment centers may have medical care on-site. Others may partner with nearby hospitals to offer care.
Family involvement can be helpful in addiction treatment. There are times; however, that family involvement is detrimental. Check with the facility to determine what degree of family involvement is expected and whether that is appropriate for your situation.
Accredited rehab centers are held to higher standards of care than the average state licensing requirements. In return, programs with accreditation treat their clients using evidence-based addiction treatment practices.
Should I Travel to Colorado for Alcohol and Drug Treatment?
Colorado is a popular destination for recreation, and it may hold appeal for people searching for an ideal location for rehab. You will need to consider multiple factors when deciding where to get treatment. Some reasons to consider Colorado include:
- Your preferred facility is there
- You want to be closer to Colorado-based friends or family
- Your insurance covers treatment in Colorado
- Climate preferences
Colorado is best known for its mountainous terrain and variety of outdoor activities. It’s a top destination for skiing and hiking. Camping and fishing are popular summer activities. Denver is an exciting city with excellent music and restaurants, as well as a major airport for easy travel to the state. There are museums and a thriving performing arts scene in cities like Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs.
Drug and Alcohol Laws in Colorado
Colorado lawmakers and public health agencies have enacted the following laws related to substance abuse and overdoses:11,12
911 Good Samaritan Law: This law states that a person is immune from criminal prosecution for an offense when they report an emergency overdose. This includes Colorado residents who call 911 or remain at the scene of the event, and the person who experienced the overdose.
Naloxone Standing Orders: Enacted in 2015, this law gave Colorado broad access to naloxone.9 The state can issue standing orders to pharmacies to dispense naloxone without a prescription. This law allows licensed prescribers to provide Naloxone to Colorado residents who may experience an opioid overdose, even without a prescription. The goal is to increase access to this overdose antidote and reduce the number of overdose deaths.
Needle-Stick Prevention: This law allows police officers to make an exception to arrest and charges for the crime of possession of drug paraphernalia if the Colorado resident informs the officer that they have a needle, syringe, or other sharp objects on their person or in their home or vehicle—prior to being searched.
Syringe Exchange Programs:Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. Adults at least 21 years old may buy up to 1 ounce of retail marijuana from a licensed store and possess up to 2 ounces at a time. It is illegal to drive in Colorado after consuming marijuana. State law sets the impairment level for marijuana at 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.
Colorado has a number of alternative sentencing options, which are handed down at the discretion of sentencing judges. Non-violent offenders may be sentenced to “specialized restitution and community service program[s].” Colorado also has a well-established drug court program, through which eligible people can attend treatment and do community service instead of jail time.8
- America’s Health Rankings. (2021). Non-Medical Drug Use – Past Year In Colorado.
- America’s Health Rankings. (2020). Excessive Drinking In Colorado.
- Medicare.gov. (2022). Inpatient hospital care.
- Medicare.gov. (2022). Mental health care (outpatient).
- Health First Colorado. (2022). Mental Health, Substance Use Disorder, or Behavioral Health Services.
- Colorado General Assembly. (2019). Offense Level For Controlled Substance Possession.
- Colorado Revised Statutes. (2022). Colorado Revised Statutes
Title 18 – Criminal Code Article 18 – Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 2013 Part 4 – Offenses and Penalties § 18-18-405. Unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, or sale.
- Colorado Judicial Branch. (2022). Drug Court.
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. (2022). Naloxone standing orders.
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. (2022). Colorado public health harm reduction legislation.
- Colorado public health harm reduction legislation. (n.d.). Department of Public Health & Environment. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://cdphe.colorado.gov/prevention-and-wellness/colorado-public-health-harm-reduction-legislation
- Update! Colorado drug laws 2022. (2022, July 5). Wolf Law LLC. https://wolflawcolorado.com/update-colorado-drug-laws-2022/
- Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 national survey on drug use and health. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2022, from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2016/NSDUH-FFR1-2016.htm
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2021). Facility Locator. from