Updated on May 17, 2024
3 min read

Updated Drug and Alcohol Statistics for Colorado

Colorado has been grappling with a significant drug and alcohol addiction crisis, which has had far-reaching consequences for individuals, families, and communities across the state. This article presents an overview of the latest statistics on substance use disorders, the opioid crisis, alcohol-related deaths, youth substance use, and treatment and recovery challenges in Colorado, highlighting the urgent need for effective solutions.

  • In the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield MSA, 21.0% of the population aged 12 or older used illicit drugs, which is higher than the national rate of 14.7%.1
  • Drinking deaths in Colorado spiked 60% between 2018 and 2021, with more than 1,500 people in the state dying from excessive drinking in 2022.2
  • More than one in every ten Coloradans (10.44%) had a drug use disorder in 2021.3

Substance Use and Disorders

Substance use and disorders are prevalent in Colorado, with rates higher than the national average in some areas. Here are some key statistics:

  • From 2017 to 2019, an annual average of 236,000 people aged 12 or older were classified as having a substance use disorder, equating to 11.9% of the population in the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield MSA.1

These numbers demonstrate the widespread nature of substance use issues in the state.

Opioid Crisis and Overdose Deaths

The opioid epidemic has hit Colorado particularly hard, with a high number of overdose deaths and a sharp increase in fentanyl-related fatalities. Consider these troubling statistics:

  • In 2018, Colorado recorded 543 opioid overdose deaths from both prescription opioids and illegal opioids such as heroin.4
  • In 2020, overdose deaths due to opioids, including opioid analgesics and heroin, increased by 54%, with fentanyl overdoses making up about 68% of all opioid analgesic deaths.5

The alarming rise in opioid-related deaths underscores the urgent need to address this crisis.


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Treatment and Recovery

Access to quality treatment and recovery services is essential for addressing substance use disorders in Colorado. Here are some relevant statistics:

  • On a single day count in 2019, 7,640 clients were in substance abuse treatment in Colorado.6
  • People who undergo rehab have a relapse rate that is around 20% lower compared to those who do not seek treatment.7

While treatment options are available, ensuring access to effective care and support for long-term recovery remains a challenge.

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Alcohol-Related Deaths

Alcohol-related deaths have surged in Colorado in recent years, with a higher mortality rate than opioids. Consider these alarming statistics:

  • Drinking deaths in Colorado spiked 60% between 2018 and 2021. In 2022, more than 1,500 people in the state died from excessive drinking.2

The sharp increase in alcohol-related deaths highlights the need for comprehensive prevention and treatment strategies.

Youth Substance Use

Substance use among young people in Colorado is a growing concern, with a significant proportion of students using alcohol or drugs. Here are some relevant statistics:

  • From 2017 to 2019, 7% of 7th graders, 15% of 9th graders, 23% of 11th graders, and 29% of students in non-traditional programs reported using alcohol or drugs in the past month.1
Colorado SUD Chart

Early intervention and prevention efforts are crucial to help young people avoid developing substance use disorders.

The statistics presented in this article paint a grim picture of the drug and alcohol addiction landscape in Colorado. From high rates of substance use disorders and opioid-related deaths to the alarming surge in alcohol-related fatalities, it is clear that the state faces significant challenges in addressing this crisis. However, by prioritizing prevention, expanding access to quality treatment, and supporting long-term recovery, Colorado can work towards a healthier, more resilient future for all its residents.

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Updated on May 17, 2024

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