Colorado Drug Intervention Services
Holding an intervention is an important first step in the recovery process. Friends and family come together to confront the drug abuser about their addiction and to express the negative impact their substance abuse has had. This is a valuable opportunity to persuade the addict that they have a problem and need to seek treatment. However, it’s not always easy to hold a constructive intervention. Addicts are often in denial about their addiction, and confronting the truth isn’t easy. Emotions might run high, and even loved ones who mean well may not know the right things to say. A poorly-run intervention may only drive the addict further away and further into their addiction.
The detox process for substance abuse isn’t easy. Withdrawal from opioids or heroin is particularly difficult— in some cases, it can be fatal. Symptoms can begin after just 6 hours without the drugs. Early symptoms include agitation, muscle aches, hypertension, and fever. Late withdrawal symptoms include depression, nausea, cramps, vomiting, and a strong desire for the drugs. Powerful psychological symptoms and cravings may continue for more than a week. Such symptoms are difficult to fight alone. Proper medical attention and supervision can make all the difference for recovering addicts, and an effective intervention may be crucial in getting them the medical help they need.
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States. What starts as a medical necessity for pain relief grows into a physical and psychological dependency with deadly consequences. The CDC ranks the drug overdose epidemic as one of the top four health crises in the nation. The keys to reducing addiction and death by overdose are awareness, education, and intervention.
Drug Addiction in Colorado
Colorado is facing a significant crisis. According to a report from Colorado Public Radio, the state’s overdose deaths top the national average. And those numbers are increasing. 12 Colorado counties, both urban and rural, have some of the highest rates of drug deaths in the country. 35 residents die every month from prescription opioid overdoses, and almost 250,000 residents abuse prescription opioid painkillers each year. Prescription opioid abuse is becoming a deadly problem across the state and the rest of the country. Opioid painkillers take more lives than any other drug. Heroin is a close second.
Colorado’s Opioid and Heroin Abuse
Opiates work through changing the way the brain interprets and responds to pain stimuli we experience, and disrupts the brain's reward and pleasure centers to produce a pleasurable "high." Long-term opioid use reduces the body’s ability to produce natural painkillers like dopamine, and changes brain chemistry to increase emotion, stress, and impulsivity. That makes it all too easy for users to engage in the risky, reward-seeking behavior that has become a hallmark of drug addiction.
Prescription opioid abuse may begin with a legitimate need for painkillers, such as a serious injury or major surgery. But over time, a tolerance develops and the user may come to need the painkillers just to feel normal. Once a prescription opioid user develops an addiction, they often end up abusing heroin as well. Heroin is inexpensive compared to other illegal substances, and it mimics the pain-blocking effects of opiates. Once a prescription opioid addict’s refills run out, heroin becomes a tempting, but dangerous, alternative.
Heroin deaths in Colorado quadrupled from 1999 to 2016, and the number of addicts is growing exponentially. The Coloradoan reports that 2016 alone saw 442 deaths from heroin overdose. The trend is similar to that of prescription opioid addiction. The need to treat legitimate pain spirals out of control. Addiction and desperation drives prescription opioid abusers to the black market. As tolerance increases, so do the costs-- financially, physically, and psychologically.
Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado
The legalization of marijuana offers Colorado an advantage in the war on substance abuse. Since 2014, the drug has been sold, regulated, and taxed like alcohol. Although use is legal for adults across the state, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level. That classification may change in the future due to growing evidence of marijuana’s medical uses.
Medical marijuana is effective for treating chronic pain, making it a non-lethal alternative to opioid painkillers. Ever since Colorado legalized the sale of medical marijuana, the state has seen a drop in prescription opioid deaths. A study from JAMA Internal Medicine surveyed 13 states that legalized medical marijuana and showed a whopping 33 percent decrease in opiate-related deaths in the six years following legalization.
Medical marijuana gives Colorado an edge in the fight against substance abuse and overdose deaths, but heroin and prescription opioid painkiller abuse remain a significant problem. Addicts need effective medical treatment to regain control over their lives. Families and friends of substance abusers can be the ones to help start the recovery process.
At The Addiction Advocates, we make sure the Colorado interventionist running your intervention provides a constructive experience. Over 90% of the interventions we manage result in the addict recognizing their problem and agreeing to treatment. Our trained interventionists and extensive experience ensure your family will have a healthy, productive conversation that encourages your loved one that he or she needs help.