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Addiction and Drug Abuse Treatment in Denver, Colorado

Are you considering getting help for your drug addiction in Denver? Or do you know a relative or close friend who is struggling with substance abuse? Fortunately, Denver drug rehabs are here to help. We have gathered together all of the information here you’ll need on the treatment process in Denver and throughout Colorado.

If you live in Denver, and have fallen victim to substance abuse don’t hesitate to seek treatment. There are enormous resources in at your disposal.

A Little Bit About Denver

The state capital of Colorado, Denver boasts a number of diverse neighborhoods, from Washington Park to Cole, Cherry Creek and Belcaro. In 2016, the city’s estimated population was 693,060, an increase of more than 15 percent since the 2010 census. This makes Denver the 19th largest city in the United States and one of the country’s fastest growing large cities.

The population growth in the city is being driven by a strong economy. Economic growth in the region was the fourth fastest in the US in 2015, with a rate of expansion of 3.5 percent. The main industries that have seen increased employment and activity are construction, information and wholesale trade. The job market in Denver is reportedly among the strongest in the country, with opportunities opening up particularly in the areas of professional services and business services.

According to PayScale, average wages in Denver rose by 12.8 percent between 2006 and 2017. While this may seem like a large figure, real wages have in fact declined by over 7 percent since 2006 due to inflation.

While the median wage in the Denver area was $61,453 in 2012, there is a considerable degree of wage inequality in the city. For example, a 2015 study found that while the top 5 percent of wage earners took home an average of $216,825 annually, the bottom 20 percent received an average of $20,326. Denver was placed 17th on a list of the nation’s cities with the highest levels of wage inequality.

Drug Addiction in Denver

One of the largest drug-related problems in Denver is the opioid epidemic, which has hit a number of cities across North America. In 2016, Denver lost 174 residents to opioid overdoses, over three times the number of deaths caused by murders and car accidents. Lawmakers are considering allowing Denver to start a pilot project that would set up supervised sites for drug users to take opioids as a way to try and cut overdose deaths.

Across Colorado, the rate of alcohol and drug abuse is much higher than the national average. In a 2011 study, 4 percent of all Americans aged 12 or over admitted to using an illegal drug. In Colorado, the rate was 11.3 percent. Suicide rates are also slightly higher, with 4.3 percent of Colorado’s adult population saying they had considered taking their own life, compared to 3.7 percent nationally.

The use of marijuana in Colorado is legal within certain limits, but it continues to present challenges. For example, police in Colorado issued 5,546 tickets for driving under the influence in 2014, with 12 percent of them related to marijuana. In addition, 8 percent of all admissions to drug treatment programs statewide are linked to marijuana.

Heroin is also posing a growing problem in Denver and across the state. Deaths resulting from heroin have tripled over the past four years in the state. Among Coloradans aged 18-24, heroin abuse has risen by 27 percent since 2008.

Drug Laws in Colorado

You should not make the mistake of thinking that just because the possession and use of marijuana has been legalized in Colorado, the state’s drug laws are lenient. In fact, possessing the vast majority of controlled substances is seen as a felony. That means that even if you are caught with a small amount of methamphetamine or heroin, you could well face up to 18 months in prison.

Heroin and LSD are classified as schedule I drugs, meaning that the punishments associated with their possession, use or distribution are the most severe. At the other end of the scale, even though authorities have legalized the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, you will still face a fine of up to $100 if you are carrying between one and two ounces. If you have between 6 and 12 ounces, you could face a class 1 misdemeanor, with the prospect of up to 18 months in prison.

Colorado also applies stricter penalties on repeat offenders. If you have been found guilty of three felony offenses within a decade, you will face a prison term three times as long as the maximum penalty for your third offense. A fourth conviction within ten years results in a prison term four times as long.

In addition to lengthy periods behind bars, drug-related offenses in Colorado come with heavy fines. If, for example, you have more than 4 grams of a substance, including any amount of a schedule I or II drug, the authorities will charge you with a class 4 felony. This can mean a fine of up to $500,000.

Treatment Assessment

The road to recovery from your drug addiction in Denver starts with an assessment. State health centers and private treatment facilities offer these initial examinations, which are designed to find out about the extent of your drug addiction and any related medical problems.

Assessments are important because they help determine what treatment program is most suitable for you. As we will explain below, there are various types of treatment for you to choose from. Your choice will be made easier if you and the medical professionals assisting you are aware of any related medical conditions or medications you are on, as well as the drugs in your system and substances you are using. These are all things that the assessment looks at

You might be struggling to decide where to go to get an assessment. If you’re not familiar with any facility close by that offers this service, you can get started by performing an online search for drug assessment services in Denver. That way, you will obtain the full range of service providers available and be able to select the one that works best for you.


Before enrolling in a treatment program, you will go through the pre-intake process. This is the stage where you will make contact with a treatment center and speak to a member of staff, who will want to get some more information about your personal background and drug addiction.

Depending on how the treatment service operates, you may have to fill out a form containing some personal information or be asked to provide it over the phone. Some providers may have information about forms to fill out on their website and ask you to bring them along to your intake interview. But however you provide the details, it’s important that you are as honest and forthcoming with the information as possible. Staff will have a much easier time of it when they are tailoring your recovery program to meet your needs if they are working with full and accurate information about yourself and your drug addiction.

You may also get information at this stage from the service provider about the types of personal belongings you will be allowed to bring with you, especially if you are preparing to enter an inpatient treatment program.

The Intake Interview

This will be your first opportunity to meet face-to-face with a medical professional, who will take you through an interview process. The aim of the interview is to enable the treatment provider to get to know you and your circumstances in more detail, and examine your drug addiction more closely. Typically, the interview can last from one to two hours

Before attending your intake interview, it would be a good idea to think about some of the questions you will be asked. Providing a large quantity of personal information to someone, particularly on sensitive issues related to a substance abuse problem, can be very difficult. It can also bring emotional and psychological difficulties to the fore. There is no way to avoid these challenges entirely if you want to join a treatment program, but preparing as best you can will prove helpful.

The medical professional will want to know the history of your substance abuse problems, when they started, and how long they have been going on for. Additionally, you should expect them to inquire about your motivation for pursuing treatment now, something that will have a very big impact on how you approach the recovery program you are about to begin. If you have participated in recovery programs before, they could ask you to talk about how the process worked for you

During the interview, the treatment professional may request that you take diagnostic tests or other evaluations to get a better idea of the stage of your drug addiction, or make an assessment of any other relevant medical issues.

Although the interview is chiefly about you answering questions, there will also be a chance for you to raise any issues you wish to. If you are uncertain about any aspect of the treatment process, or want to bring up something you have concerns about, now is your chance to do so.


A drug addiction takes an immense toll on your physical health. Substances remain in your body for a long period of time after you have used them, impacting upon your physical abilities as well as your mental, emotional and psychological wellbeing. To put yourself in the best position to deal with these mental health issues, you need to go through a thorough detoxification process to get rid of all of the drugs you have been abusing from your system.

Throughout the detox process, you will receive treatment from medical professionals. At this stage of your treatment, you can suffer serious withdrawal symptoms and this can result in an increased temptation to resort to drugs again in order to cope. Treatment center staff will try to find ways for you to manage withdrawal symptoms and support you along the way.

It is impossible to say with any certainty how long detox will take. That will depend to a large degree on the drugs you were using, how much drugs you took, and the length of time you abused these substances. Some detox processes can be completed in a few days, while others run over several months.

Successfully coming through detox does not mean you have overcome your drug addiction. But you will have taken a big step in the right direction. With the narcotics out of your system, you can approach the psychological and emotional issues associated with drug addiction free from some of the most detrimental effects drugs have on your brain.

What is withdrawal? How long does it last?

Inpatient Treatment

Many inpatient treatment programs in Denver are available to you in order to tackle your drug addiction.

One of the major advantages you’ll find with inpatient care is that you are able to stay at the center where you are receiving treatment. This means you will have a secure and safe environment to undertake the recovery process, and a trained team of professionals to provide you with treatment and support. If you have been living in an environment that has exacerbated your drug addiction, or if you had no opportunity to avoid drugs due to a circle of friends always using them, an inpatient treatment program could prove very effective for you. A fresh start in a new setting could help you work through the challenges of the recovery process.

A lot of inpatient programs run a 12 step recovery program. These programs, which were first developed and effectively used by Alcoholics Anonymous, put forward the belief that people can assist and support each other in abstaining from the use of harmful substances to a certain extent. However, full healing is only possible according to the 12 step program if individuals acknowledge the existence of a higher power. By recognizing the presence of this higher being or God, the recovering drug user admits that they cannot control all of their behaviors, and accepts that they will be able to remain clear of drugs only with the support of a higher power.

This idea will obviously be difficult to put in to practice for someone who is unwilling to accept a religious or spiritual outlook. For this reason, many treatment centers offer alternatives to 12 step models of treatment so that recovering drug users can make their own choice. Alternative models to 12 steps tend to focus on empowering individuals to control their addiction, although they do still rely on peer support approaches. The research these programs draw on argues that drug users are not only capable of abstaining from substance abuse, but also to control and direct their behavior in a new direction in the future.

Whatever approach your treatment program takes, group therapy sessions are likely to play a significant part in your recovery. These meetings are led by a trained therapist and provide the opportunity for the discussion of issues related to recovery. This includes things like managing cravings and avoiding relapses, and also sharing experiences.

Professionals will be on hand to provide care and treatment for mental health problems. It is common for co-occurring disorders to develop alongside drug addiction, such as anxiety disorders, depression, and many other mental health illnesses.

Additionally, therapists at your center will offer regular sessions where you can meet with therapists and other medical professionals individually to discuss your needs and get tailored treatment and support.

Research suggests that inpatient treatment is the most effective way to overcome a drug addiction. But in some cases, it may not be the best option for everyone. If you want to find out about alternative routes to recovery, take a look at the information below on outpatient treatment programs in Denver.

What is outpatient treatment?

In contrast to inpatient services, people participating in an outpatient program do not stay on site while receiving treatment. They will meet for regular sessions and receive medical and psychological treatment, but return to their homes afterwards.

This form of rehabilitation program may suit someone who feels more settled and comfortable in their own home, or a person who has the benefit of a supportive family or group of friends during recovery. You could also be in a position where you are working while receiving treatment. Attending an outpatient program would make this possible.

One form of outpatient care is intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). This option combines group therapy sessions with one-on-one meetings with medical professionals to ensure comprehensive medical care and emotional support during your recovery. An IOP will cover educational issues such as understanding the chemistry of addiction, managing urges and avoiding relapses, and the importance of spirituality. If the program you are on is guided by the 12 step model, this will also be dealt with.

A less extensive treatment approach is provided by day programs. Participants meet regularly, perhaps several times a week, in group therapy sessions to carry out educational tasks, take part in art or music therapy programs, or discuss issues that have arisen in your recovery. Individual therapy sessions will also be available.

Some support groups also offer outpatient services. One example is Narcotics Anonymous, which typically holds weekly meetings for recovering drug users. These meetings provide a forum for experiences to be shared, problems discussed and support provided. The sessions will usually be led by a trained therapist or medical professional.


Successful completion of a drug recovery program is a major achievement, particularly since the recovery process takes a long period of time and is very demanding. Some patients can take up to a year or more to make it through recovery, or even longer if they have  had relapses.

However, you still have some way to go to complete your rehabilitation process. Aftercare plays an important part at this stage. This is not understood by everyone finishing a recovery program, as shown by the fact that only around half of the people coming out of recovery programs in the US take up aftercare.

If you choose to join an aftercare initiative, you will continue to attend group therapy and other sessions. But these will occur less frequently and be focused more on consolidating your recovery, avoiding relapses, and preparing for the future. One of the key issues addressed in aftercare will be helping you to plan and enjoy a full and exciting life free from substance abuse.

Some inpatient programs realize the importance of aftercare and ensure that treatment professionals help you make arrangements to join an aftercare program before your treatment ends. In other cases, such as drug rehabilitation treatments ordered by a court, aftercare is mandatory.

As you move through the aftercare process, the issue of your reintegration into social life will become more important. One option that could be considered is finding accommodation in a halfway house or sober living facility. Alternatively, you may receive support from professionals running the aftercare program or fellow recovering drug users to make alternative arrangements.

What is sober living?

The idea behind sober living facilities is that it is vital for recovering drug users to be given a secure environment where they can live and work on rejoining society. The main requirement you have to meet if you want to move into a sober living home is that you are clear of all drugs. You must also remain clean throughout the entire time you reside there.

Sober living homes in Denver help create support structures to aid people in the final stages of their recovery. Living alongside a group of people who are going through the same process as you can provide encouragement and the new friendships you make can guard against a relapse into substance abuse.

On top of the rule that no drugs are allowed, residents of a sober living home will often be required to perform certain chores. These rules are not only designed to help you as an individual, but also to establish the most favorable setting possible for everyone to make a full and successful recovery. The use of drugs in a sober living facility, for example, would not just harm the person taking them, but expose everyone living there to an increased risk of relapse. This would be extremely unfair to other residents given how tough the recovery process will have been.