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Colorado Addiction Treatment Guide

Colorado has developed a reputation for its rates of drug abuse, addiction, and poor mental health treatment.

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The State of Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force reports that in 2017, there were more than 40,000 admissions to addiction treatment facilities in the state. Many people who need treatment for drug abuse and addiction do not seek out treatment, so this number is likely not a true indicator of how many people are actually impacted by addiction in Colorado.

Alcohol is the substance cited most often as the primary drug of choice at admission. Both methamphetamine and heroin indicators are on the rise, as they made up 40 percent of all treatment admissions in 2017.


New legislature is opening up access to care for Coloradans, as several new laws will positively impact mental health in 2019. Per the provisions, money will be allocated for support and housing services, such as sober living homes; opioid addiction treatment will be expanded into rural communities; and parity laws will be implemented that ensure mental health and addiction treatment are covered the same as other medical treatments under both private insurance and Medicaid.

Behavioral health in Colorado is looking up. There are some great local options for addiction treatment.

Treatment Providers & Levels of Care in Colorado

The State of Colorado Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) acts as the Single State Authority (SSA) that oversees mental health and addiction treatment services within the state. OBH operates two state-funded mental health hospitals, contracts with community-based behavioral health providers, and regulates and supports the public behavioral health system.

Public services are open to eligible all residents, even those without insurance or the ability to pay for treatment.

The Colorado Crisis Service provides a hotline, text line, online chat, and walk-in options for immediate help and support as well as referral services at no charge. You can use these confidential services at any time to get information and immediate personal support for addiction in Colorado. The searchable online directory LADDERS (Licensing and Designation Database and Electronic Records System) can connect you with local substance abuse treatment providers as well.

There are 17 Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) and 27 Behavioral Health Care Entities that are Colorado Behavioral Health Council (CBHC) member organizations contracted with the state to provide services to residents.

Nonprofit organizations in Colorado also offer community outreach, prevention, and treatment services within local communities.

The following are examples of treatment options and programs in Colorado:

These can be offered in either an inpatient or outpatient setting. They may use medications to balance brain chemistry, lessen withdrawal symptoms, and combat cravings.


Offered in a variety of settings, outpatient care provides a flexible and often cost-effective option if you have a supportive home environment and need to continue to attend to daily life while receiving care. If you don’t have a safe home environment, you can move into a sober living home (see below) and receive outpatient treatment.


Residential treatment can provide you with a high level of care, offering a structured environment and schedule as well as 24/7 care.

Sober Living

If your living environment is not ideal for recovery, yet you don’t quite need inpatient treatment, you may want to consider a sober living environment that can provide you with recovery support. OBH provides funding for some recovery support services in Colorado to help with long-term recovery maintenance.

Support Group

Peer-based recovery support groups can enhance recovery and offer ongoing encouragement. Groups such as Colorado Narcotics Anonymous (NA Colorado) and Area 10 Colorado (Colorado AA) offer 12-step peer support programs with many local groups and meetings.

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Colorado Wellness Recovery provides a resource guide that is free for you to look at online. You can learn more about treatment and recovery options in the state.

Additional Support for Addiction in Colorado

Public programs typically receive state and federal funds to offer free or low-cost treatment to eligible Colorado residents. There are several barriers to treatment, however, and many involve access to care and gaps in funding.

For example, much of the primary prevention funding for substance abuse — almost 80 percent, the Colorado Health Institute (CHI) publishes — goes to general strategies for entire communities or schools instead of targeting the populations that need it most. Counties in South Central Colorado — like Custer, Lake, Fremont, and Pueblo — are some of the most at-risk populations and the areas of greatest need in the state, but many of these communities are underserved.

Private treatment providers can fill the holes left in the public addiction treatment landscape, and they offer more residents more options. Public programs are often in high demand, and they may have long waiting lists, while private providers can usually offer you a spot immediately. Private programs may cost more, but they often accept health insurance and have payment options available.

How to Pay for Addiction Treatment in Colorado

Comprehensive substance abuse treatment coverage is provided through Health First Colorado, which is the state’s Medicaid provider for low-income and eligible residents. If you qualify for coverage, you will receive services through your regional organization, which is dependent on where you live.


The following services may be covered completely or available for a very low cost, the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) reports:
  • Drug screening and monitoring
  • Case management services
  • Drop-in centers
  • Prevention and intervention
  • Assertive community treatment
  • Emergency services
  • Detox
  • Vocational services
  • Group and individual therapy
  • Counseling
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Medication management
  • Residential and inpatient treatment
  • Recovery services

If you don’t have access to affordable health insurance and don’t qualify for Medicaid services, treatment providers may be able to work with you on sliding scale based on what you can afford to pay.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are my options for addiction treatment?

There are two main forms of treatment: inpatient and outpatient. Within outpatient treatment, there are a few more narrowed options as well.

Inpatient treatment is a residential situation where you will stay in a facility for the duration of the program, engaging in sessions, workshops, and educational programs throughout a highly structured day. You will follow a detailed schedule and live on site.

Outpatient treatment programs range from scheduled sessions to more structured day programs. With an outpatient program, you will go back to your own living situation or return to a sober living home between your appointments or scheduled program hours.

What if I need to keep working, going to school, or taking care of my family while in treatment?

An outpatient program may be ideal for you. These programs are more flexible and have set scheduling you can work around. An outpatient program is only as good as your support at home, however. If you live in a stressful situation or your home life is unstable, consider moving into a sober living home for the duration of your treatment.

When is it time to consider inpatient treatment?

Inpatient treatment programs require a break from your regular life, which is not always possible. They can, however, give you the space, time, and opportunity to really work on healing and focus on your treatment needs.

If your living situation is not great, addiction is impacting your daily life, you also suffer from a medical or mental health disorder, or you struggle with significant drug dependence, then an inpatient treatment program may be the best choice. These programs can be costly, however, and they may require a few months off the grid.

How do I decide on a treatment program or plan?

You can call a treatment provider directly for an assessment to determine what kind and level of care might be appropriate for you. Your medical or mental health provider will be able to weigh in. Your insurance provider can also let you know what your options are for coverage and specific providers that will be covered.

Professionals at addiction treatment facilities can provide you with a detailed evaluation. This will help you and your treatment team to come up with an optimal plan that will be tailored just for you.

Footprints to Recovery in Colorado

Footprints to Recovery has drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers throughout the United States, including in Colorado — just outside of Denver. Taking an approach that centers on individual and evidence-based care as well as a strong sense of community, Footprints to Recovery sees you through the entire process, from enrollment into recovery, to ensure the best opportunity for a healthy life.

In Colorado, Footprints to Recovery offers both partial care and a daytime intensive outpatient program (IOP). Both are offered Monday through Friday, with the partial care program being more structured and about twice as many hours per day.

The facility in Colorado has an EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma therapy specialist who provides integrated trauma groups on site. Family sessions can also be integrated into your treatment plan as can medication-assisted treatment with local OTP (opioid treatment program) provider partnerships.

Footprints to Recovery in Colorado also offers an expressive therapy similar to art therapy and sand tray therapy, using a client-centered approach.

Moving Forward in Recovery

The State of Colorado publishes that drug overdose deaths in the state are cause for concern with over 900 fatalities in 2016. Addiction treatment, recovery support, and preventative services can help to decrease overdose deaths and the impact that drug abuse and addiction have on individuals, families, and the entire community. When it comes to addiction treatment in Colorado, you have choices.

Footprints to Recovery can aid your recovery journey through a comprehensive treatment approach. We can guide you through how to verify and use your insurance, which program to enroll in, and how to enroll and get started. We also have partnerships with other local providers in order to provide comprehensive care.

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