The “Hippie City”
Boulder, Colorado is ranked 4th best “city for hippies” by the real estate website Estately.com. Among the things that make Boulder so hippie-friendly is that “the whole damn town may be baked.” Although marijuana may be legal, there is an opioid crisis in Boulder County. The hippies of the 60s never saw it coming.
More than 350 unintentional opioid-related deaths occurred in Boulder County between 2001 and 2016. Those numbers might not even include part-time residents. Jamie Feld, from Boulder Public Health, said that overdose deaths exceeded motor vehicle deaths in 2005 as the main cause of accidental deaths in Boulder County and continues to this day.
The number of heroin deaths has not been as high. In 2015 there were 24 overdose deaths involving opioids and 11 involving heroin. “But that could be due to better access to drugs that reverse the effects of opioids,” Feld concludes. “We have seen an increase in deaths due to heroin in the past few years. In Colorado, one person dies from a drug overdose every 10 hours.”
Debby Wilson, whose son died of an OxyCodone overdose, said, “The image of an addict has changed. It’s your children, your neighbors, your friends.”
Alcohol Use Disorder in the Boulder County Area
Although the opioid epidemic produces particular challenges, including deadliness, Colorado Rep. Jonathan Singer says that alcohol abuse surpasses all other substances, including opioids, in terms of prevalence.
The state’s Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force showed in their latest report that treatment admissions were highest for those abusing alcohol. More than half were for alcohol, and the next highest was for marijuana.
“It is probably the most dangerous substance out there and our biggest problem, but it’s not one that people are willing to talk about because it’s kind of our norm in the U.S. to have a few drinks after work,” said Lindsey Myers, chief of the violence and injury prevention-mental health promotion branch at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
There are five alcohol-related deaths every day in Colorado. Beyond the overdoses and accidents, excessive drinking over time is conducive to high blood pressure, liver and heart diseases, stroke, depression, and some types of cancer.
High school students in Colorado use alcohol at a higher rate than any other substance. Nearly 60% say they have tried alcohol, which is similar to the national rate. Alcohol is also the easiest substance for teenagers to acquire.
Forty percent of high school students in the Interstate 70 mountain counties say they’ve had at least one drink in the past month, which is the state’s highest rate of use. The second-highest rate of use for high schoolers is the counties of Boulder and Bloomfield at 38%.
There is a good possibility that you or someone close to you is struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD). Maybe it’s a polysubstance dependence. Although it could be any combination of three drugs, studies have shown that alcohol is commonly used with another substance.
A long-term study on substance use led researchers to see that excessively using or dependence on one drug increased the likelihood of excessively or relying on another. The most common combinations were:
Or combinations of:
If you are using one from either group, you are probably using one or 2 of the others. This is one of the reasons; treatment needs to be individualized for each person.
Step One: What Kind of Treatment Do You Need?
So, what kind of treatment do you need, and what will work best for your particular situation? Because addiction is a chronic brain disease, you can’t just stop using it for a few days and consider yourself cured. It’s not that easy. And you should never try to go “cold turkey.” Most people need long-term care, which starts with detoxification, followed by treatment and therapy.
Because everyone is different, and everyone’s addiction is different, you will need an assessment by a qualified medical professional. This will help determine what course of action to take. Factors you need to consider are:
- Will you need a medically supervised detoxification? If you have been dependent on a substance or substances for a long time and your tolerance has been increasing, you will need medical detoxification. Withdrawal symptoms from some substances are extremely difficult and lead people to use again just to avoid the withdrawal. Some symptoms are relatively mild but can lead to psychosis and depression, which may precipitate suicide.
- Do you have a severe mental or medical issue along with substance abuse? Inpatient treatment may be your best option. You will live at a medical center or hospital. It is not common but helpful if you have severe issues.
- Have you stopped using it before and subsequently relapsed? If you have been through outpatient treatment and were not able to stay abstinent, then a residential program may be for you. It has a structured and controlled environment that will isolate you from previous triggers.
- Is it not practical for you to live away from home for 3-to 6 months? Do you have the support of family and friends? If you have a mild to moderate issue, haven’t been a long-term user, and your physical and mental health are still good, then an outpatient program might be an option.
Mental Health Treatment in Boulder Colorado
According to the World Health Organization, mental health is a “state of well-being in which every individual realizes their potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can contribute to their community.”
Mental health disorders frequently co-occur with substance use disorders (about 45% of the time). Many of the residents of Boulder County try to cope with ongoing substance use and mental health issues. Among high school students, 22% have said they felt sad or hopeless in the past 12 months. And nearly 5% have attempted suicide.
Of the adults in Boulder, more than 11% reported that their mental health was not good at least 8 out of the last 30 days. Thirty-seven percent of older adults reported feeling depressed.
There are programs in Boulder to support the youth, adults, and families who are undergoing mental health and substance use issues.
However, The Community of Hope Mental Health Assessment Report recognized many gaps and barriers to discussing mental health and substance abuse in the community. Based on this report, five major themes were identified:
- Improve timeliness and ease of accessing services—Recognize that the mental health system is complicated and may be overwhelming for people having acute mental health issues.
- Try to reduce stigma—The stigma surrounding mental health issues contributes to many of the issues people have when seeking help and prevents them from seeking services when they need them. Stigma also prevents the community from accepting the idea of mental health as a community health issue.
- Increase early detection and health promotion—This accepts the importance of recognizing issues as early as possible so that therapeutic, family, and community support can be used efficiently in response.
- Reduce incarceration through improved access to and use of assessment and treatment services—Many times, incarceration is used as a substitute for a more appropriate provision of mental health services. Possible solutions for this may include additional Mental Health First Aid training and clear procedures for connecting people with the appropriate service.
Step 2: Available Treatment Programs in Boulder, Colorado
Because you are unique, you will need a treatment center that has the resources to customize a treatment plan specifically for you. Footprints to Recovery in Boulder, Colorado, can provide these program choices:
- Detox–Most people need a medically assisted detox program to get through the symptoms of withdrawal, and you probably will too. This is considered the first stage of treatment. If you depend on drugs or alcohol to feel normal, then you will need detox services under the supervision of a medical professional. Alcohol and opioids produce severe withdrawal symptoms, including nausea and sweating, which can lead to serious complications if not monitored. Marijuana and cocaine withdrawal typically present as emotional issues such as irritability and depression, which can last from a few days to a few months. Some drugs require a longer time to leave the body, and the cravings may last for months. Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) may be necessary well into the treatment program.
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)—PHP is for patients who require a structured program without needing 24-hour monitoring or medical assistance. It affords the patient the benefits of a residential treatment program in concert with the real-life advantages of an intensive outpatient program. This program is 5 days a week for 6 hours per day.
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)—This treatment level gives you the opportunity to maintain other parts of your life, such as school or work, while receiving a high level of care and applying what you learn to real-life skills. This program is 3 to 5 days a week, 3 hours per day. Day and evening schedules are available.
- Outpatient Treatment (OP)—OP is a step down from IOP. This program includes all the features of IOP but with different frequencies. The Outpatient program will allow you to continue to maintain family, work, or school commitments. The step down from IOP also benefits you by allowing you to continue to receive treatment for an extended period. In this program, you will attend sessions for 3 hours, 1 or 2 days a week.
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment—If you are suffering from a substance use disorder and a co-occurring (comorbid) medical or mental health issue, both conditions need to be treated simultaneously. Your substance disorder may not have caused the comorbid conditions but your addictive behavior will worsen any other issues. Conversely, a mental disorder is likely to make addictive behaviors worse.
- Holistic and Alternative Treatments—Proposals for alternative treatments will depend on the length of time you have had an SUD and the severity of the disorder. A unified program of evidence-based therapy and therapies such as meditation and mindfulness, acupuncture, or neurofeedback therapy may be prescribed. Your therapist will recommend what he/she feels is best for you.
What Types of Therapies are Available at Footprints in Boulder?
- Individual Therapy—Individual therapy allows you to interact one-to-one with your therapist. You will discuss the way your behaviors have influenced the negative outcomes in your life and vice versa. This will help you take a realistic look at your choices.
- Group Therapy—During group therapy, you will be held responsible for your decisions regarding your behavior by other members of the group, as well as the therapist. This allows for discussions of coping skills and relapse prevention and shows you that you are not alone on this journey to sobriety.
- Family Therapy—Individuals with substance use disorders are likely to have some hard feelings and broken relationships in their families. Having a loved one who has an SUD is painful for families too. Through family therapy, those hurt feelings and injured connections can be mended on both sides.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)—CBT will teach you how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors influence each other and how to recognize when your thoughts are not reality-based.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)—DBT is similar to CBT but with a focus on emotional and social aspects. It will help you cope with extreme or unstable emotions and harmful behavior.
- Motivational Interviewing–This is a counseling method that helps you find the internal motivation you need to change your behavior. It brings your feelings, insecurities, and opinions about your behavior to the surface.
- Other therapies—Because every patient needs a treatment plan tailored to his specific challenges, Footprints offers other therapies that may be recommended as needed by your counselor. These include:
- Yoga Therapy
- 12-Step Programs
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- Nutrition and Wellness Counseling
Step Three: Achieving Life-Long Sobriety in Boulder, Colorado
Footprints to Recovery in Boulder, Colorado, has programs that will help you make the transition into more independent life and continuing sobriety. These programs will be an immense help to you for the prevention of relapse.
- Recovery Homes—Recovery housing is also referred to as sober living or independent living. It is a drug-free, structured environment for people in recovery to establish valuable coping and relapse prevention skills in the real-world setting.
- Alumni Community—Our Alumni Community is a place for alumni, friends, and family to support each other and promote community service. Studies show that people who involve themselves in after treatment are more successful at staying abstinent.
Recovery Meetings in Boulder, Colorado
- Alcoholics Anonymous-Twelve-Step programs have proved to be an effective way to maintain sobriety after treatment. Recovering alcoholics learn new ways to cope with the triggers to relapse and are held accountable by the group for their actions. To find a meeting near you, the official website for Boulder is www.bouldercountyaa.com.
- Narcotics Anonymous—NA has the same benefits as AA but primarily for individuals who have been dependent on narcotics. The Boulder Area is part of the Colorado Region of NA with meetings in Boulder, Brighton, Bloomfield, Lafayette, Longmont, Louisville, Nederland, and West Minster. You can find meetings on www.naboulder.org.
- SMART Recovery—SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. At meetings, participants help each other with any issues regarding any addiction including drugs, alcohol, gambling or over-eating. Meetings are held on Saturdays at noon in Boulder, CO at the Boulder County Addiction Recovery Center. You can check their Facebook page for more information.
Paying For Treatment at Footprints to Recovery in Boulder
We know that this is one of the main concerns for people who are seeking treatment for their substance use disorders. It is also one of the main reasons people put off getting treatment. Footprints to Recovery has financial advisors who can help you make a plan to get you started on the journey to life long sobriety. These are available options:
- Insurance—Footprints accepts most major insurance coverages and will coordinate with your provider.
- Private pay—If your insurance only pays a portion of the cost or you would rather not use your insurance, we accept private payments and offer flexible payment plans.
- Financing—Footprints to Recovery has an affiliation with Prosper Healthcare who can offer special loan packages for treatment.
- State-Funded rehab—To fight the epidemic of substance use in Colorado, the government has allocated $7.6 million in funding for nonprofit addiction treatment centers. There are three treatment centers in Boulder offering mainly outpatient treatment and twenty-eight in the Denver area.
- Medicaid—Medicaid provides health insurance for low-income families and individuals, people with disabilities, the elderly, and pregnant women. Anyone in Colorado who is covered by Medicaid can be covered for substance abuse treatment. You can contact the call center for rehab locations at (800) 304-2219.
Between The Mountains and Reality
Just 30 minutes from Denver in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, acres of open space roll into the city of Boulder, Colorado. This has earned it the nickname of “the city nestled between the mountains and reality. National Geographic even recognized Boulder as “The Happiest City in the U.S.” It comes as no surprise because of its year-round outdoor activities, talented chefs, and breweries.
Boulder is associated with the gold seekers and being the main campus of the University of Colorado. It typically is highly ranked in the areas of art, health, well-being, quality of life and education. The focus on health goes back to at least 1896 when the Boulder-Colorado Sanitarium opened in the foothills of Boulder as a retreat for people seeking rest, rejuvenation, health foods and nature. And wellness remains a priority today.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health in Colorado
Every year the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey Americans age 12 and older. Participants are asked about whether they use opioid painkillers for non-medical reasons, marijuana, alcohol or cocaine. Colorado is the only state that ranks as a top consumer of all four.
In Colorado, there are thousands of families and individuals who are affected by drug and alcohol misuse. Studies show that 85% of the people over age 12 who had substance use disorder issues did not go for treatment at a rehab or any other type of facility. Substance use disorders are higher in Colorado than the national average.
The nonprofit group, Mental Health America, reported that Colorado ranked 43rd of all states in the prevalence of mental health issues and access to treatment. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 19.55% of Colorado residents are living with some type of mental illness—the third highest in the country.
Andrew Romanoff, president of Mental Health Colorado, said, “Our kids have some of the highest substance use disorder rates in the country. Most kids are not getting screened appropriately and not getting treated effectively, and they’re suffering and struggling as a result.”
Let’s Get Started!
Now you know the facts. You can start to live a life free of the control of substances in three steps. Or you can help someone you care about onto the road to recovery. You want it, or we wouldn’t be talking here.
We have admissions specialists waiting to talk to you day and night, seven days a week. Maybe you just want to talk. We’re here. Consultations are free and completely confidential—Footprints to Recovery. Take the steps now.