Does Colorado Really Have a Drug Problem?

When there is talk about the drug epidemic that is plaguing the United States now-a-days, there is always quite a bit of reference to Colorado and how it ranks among the highest for drug problems in the country.

There are many studies that seem to back this up. However, being someone who is first, from Colorado, and had my own stint with being an addict there, I would have to say that it doesn’t really look any different to me wherever I live.

This doesn’t really have anything to do with the Colorado Drug Problem in itself. Many will argue that the legalization of cannabis in the state has caused this to happen, and some of the studies have shown numbers to back this up.

Drugs and Colorado


Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to, Colorado ranks a surprising first when it comes to the percentage of adults and teenagers who used illicit drugs in the past month. also stated that Colorado ranks ninth in the United States when it comes to the percentage of teenagers who tried marijuana before the age of 13, and 14th in the country for the percentage of adults who needed but didn’t receive treatment for their illicit drug use in the past year.

All this aside, to me personally it comes as no surprise. There’s always been a Colorado drug problem, it’s just been exacerbated by the population increase that it has seen in the past 5 years or so.

Let me also add something that should come as no surprise; Colorado has ALWAYS been a proponent of cannabis usage.

I remember being a kid and hearing stories of judges and town officials who smoked cannabis. I know this was true because I was friends with their family members. So it came as no surprise that Colorado was leading the way in legalizing cannabis.

I haven’t been there in the last 6 years, but I still have family there, and they have brought up heroin usage in the state, as well as homelessness in places where there used to be none. But I would have to say that it’s no different than anywhere else having to deal with the heroin epidemic that is sweeping the nation.

I live in Arizona and there’s just as much of a problem here as in Colorado. I also recently took a trip to San Diego, California, and the homelessness problem there has gotten so bad that they have a Hepatitis-A outbreak in the city as it’s by the border and they have an easy route for meth and heroin to make it into the city.

United States Drug Problem

To most, this may come as surprise, but I don’t see anything different from anywhere else. It’s just that you have to pay attention to it in order to see it for what it really is. To me there is no Colorado drug problem; there is however a United States drug problem, but it’s the same as it’s ever been. I believe we need to focus more on the how we get these people to deal with the pain that is causing them to use drugs as an escape.

As long as we focus on the drugs themselves instead of an actual opportunity to help people see that they are whole, then this is something that is going to go around continually.

There needs to be a refocus of efforts on our part to look at the problem for what it really is; that humans deal with pain differently. Get to the actual root of the problem, because when you really look at it, you can see it for what it really is.

So, United States drug problem. I think it would be best for all of us to agree on that. Don’t you?


Author: Blake Sanders is a freelance writer focusing on addiction issues, and the social and economic impacts of the opiate epidemic.