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Aurora, Colorado: Resources for Substance Abuse

Medically Reviewed by David Szarka, MA, LCADC
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Aurora, Colorado, sits between the Great Plains on the east and the Rocky Mountains on the west. It is considered the gateway to the Rockies. It is the gateway to more than that as Colorado is considered a major drug distribution center for the western United States.

Drug wholesalers in the Denver-Aurora area supply retailers a variety of illicit drugs, including methamphetamine, heroin, MDMA, cocaine, and marijuana. These are the four main drugs that are pushing the drug epidemic in Colorado.

Similar to other parts of the country, Colorado and Arapahoe County are facing an epidemic of drug overdoses. This is attributed to the use of opioids (prescription pain relievers and heroin). The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment has approximated that 224,000 Coloradans use prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes every year. 

The number of drug overdoses surpasses the national rate. Opioid overdoses are responsible for a large proportion of deaths from overdoses. In fact, the rate of opioid overdoses that led to death increased threefold from 2000-2015. 

Aurora, Colorado: Resources for Substance Abuse

Some Substance Abuse and Mental Health Facts in Aurora, CO

If you think no one understands and you are alone, consider these facts:

Substance Use Disorder

  • In the Denver-Aurora-Bloomfield MSA, 236,000 people aged 12 and older were regarded as having a substance use disorder (SUD) in the past year. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 21% of the population of the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) were using illicit drugs. This includes people aged 12 and older in the Denver-Aurora-Bloomfield metro are, similar to the rate for the state of Colorado but higher than the national rate.
  • The rates for the use of marijuana and nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers were also higher than the national rate. This is not a surprise since Colorado legalized the drug in 2014. Since then, the law has led to what has come to be called “cannabis tourism.”
  • NSDUH also found that 24% of people over age 12 smoked cigarettes, also similar to Colorado and the nation. The use of tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable deaths

Alcohol Use Disorder

  • 27.4% of people aged 12 and older engaged in binge alcohol drinking in the past month. This was higher than the national rate.
  • Every day in Colorado, there are 5 alcohol-related deaths. 
  • Researchers reported that alcohol deaths in Colorado increased by 57% between 2005 and 2017. That’s 20% higher than the national rate.

Mental Health Issues

  • Mental Health has been described as a critical issue for residents and has been chosen as the focus of the Public Health Improvement Plan.
  • Among adults over the age of 18, 7.5% reported a major depressive experience in the past month. This rate was similar to the rates in Colorado and the nation. 
  • 9.7% of adults in Arapahoe County had experienced 14 or more days of poor mental health in the past 30 days.
  • Suicide is the 7th leading cause of death in Arapahoe County and is higher than the national rate.

What Kind of Treatment Fits Your Situation?

Let’s talk about what your situation is and what would work best for you. It is a fact that no single treatment program is right for everyone. First of all, in case you’re considering it, going “cold turkey” is not a good idea. Addiction is a chronic brain disease, so you can’t stop using it for a few days and call it a cure. You will probably need a detoxification period followed by long-term care. 

Second, you need an assessment by a qualified medical professional to determine what level of care you should start at. And third, you need to consider what situation is most practical for your life. When making your decision, consider these points:

  • Detoxification—If you have a long history of dependence on a substance or substances and your tolerance keeps increasing, you will need a detox. A medically assisted and supervised detox is the best way to get the substance out of your system. Because withdrawal symptoms can be extremely painful physically and emotionally, 24-hour supervision is best. Medications can be administered to ease the symptoms in some cases.
  • Comorbid (co-occurring) conditions—If you have a severe medical or mental condition and a substance use disorder (SUD), you will receive a dual diagnosis. You may not even be aware of it, but the initial assessment will be able to help you sort out the type of treatment you need. You may find it necessary to live at a medical center or hospital. This isn’t usual, but it is helpful, depending on the severity of your issues.
  • Relapse after previous treatment—If you have been through a treatment program and subsequently relapsed, then it’s possible that another level of care is necessary. Frequently, people go through an outpatient type of program and later relapse. They then need a modification of their treatment. 
  • You are dealing with a severe SUD—In this case, residential or an inpatient program might be your best option. This is the best choice if you have struggled with quitting repeatedly, and your dependence continues to grow. In a residential program, you will live in a safe environment, away from the distractions and triggers that might cause you to relapse. A typical program lasts from 30 to 90 days.
  • If you can’t possibly live away from home—There are outpatient programs that are quite intensive, and you will be able to go home at night. If your SUD is not severe and you have a support system of family or friends, this could be your solution.

What is Available for You in Aurora, CO

You know you are unique, and so do we. Footprints to Recovery can build a treatment plan to fit your specific needs and requirements. And we have a treatment facility right in Aurora. These are some of the programs and services that can be customized just for you.


Most of the time, a medically assisted detox is necessary. Withdrawal symptoms can be very painful depending upon the substance you have been using. In some cases, the symptoms are physically mild but have psychological symptoms that can lead to psychosis and could precipitate suicide. A medical professional is necessary to supervise your withdrawal and prescribe medications to help you through.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

This program is for people who need a structured treatment program but don’t require 24-hour supervision or medical assistance. This can give you all the benefits of a residential program, along with the convenience of an intensive outpatient program. You will attend sessions for 6 hours a day for 5 days a week.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

This level of treatment allows you to carry on with other parts of your life. You may continue work and school obligations while still receiving a high level of care. It also gives you the opportunity to apply what you are learning to real-life situations. You will attend this program 3 to 5 days a week for about 3 hours per day. We have day and evening schedules available.

Outpatient Program (OP)

Outpatient is considered a step-down program from one of the higher levels of care. It is made up of all the features of IOP but with a different recurrence. The outpatient program affords you the ability to continue to maintain family, work, or school responsibilities. You attend sessions for about 3 hours, 1 or 2 times a week.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you have an SUD and a comorbid mental or physical health issue, both need to be treated at the same time. It doesn’t matter which happened first. If not treated simultaneously, each one can cause a relapse in the other.

Alternative and Holistic Treatments

Recommendations for alternative treatments depend on how long you have had a substance use disorder and its severity. At Footprints to Recovery, we use a unified approach with evidence-based therapies. These may include meditation and mindfulness therapy, acupuncture, or neurofeedback therapy. You will decide with your therapist what is best for you.
Aurora, Colorado: Resources for Substance Abuse

We are very proud to be able to offer an extensive menu of therapy choices. You and your counselor will be able to construct a program specifically for you. Some choices include:

  • Individual Therapy—During individual therapy sessions, you will interact with your therapist one-on-one. This therapy helps you take a realistic look at your choices and how they have created the negative outcomes in your life.
  • Group Therapy—This is practiced in a group of about 5-15 members and usually 2 counselors. Group therapy sessions are a way to hold you accountable for your decisions by other members of the group. These sessions promote discussion of coping skills, and relapse prevention strategies. You also will realize that you are not alone in this fight.
  • Family TherapyYou have probably caused some broken relationships and hard feelings due to your substance abuse. In family therapy, you have a chance to mend those relationships. As the family learns about SUD, they will see the interdependent nature of family relationships and behaviors they might also need to change.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)—CBT is a goal-oriented, short term therapy that explores the discrepancy between what we want to do and what we actually do. Addiction is an example of this. You will learn to focus on your behavior and thought patterns (cognition).
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)—This is comparable to CBT but it emphasizes the emotional and social elements. DBT will help you deal with extreme or unstable emotions and harmful behavior as it relates to the emotions.
  • Motivational Interviewing—Motivational interviewing helps you find your personal motivation to change your behavior. Interview techniques will be used by your counselor to make you more aware of your feelings, insecurities, and personal opinions about your behavior.
  • Additional therapy techniques—Footprints also offers other therapies. This way, you and your counselor can tailor a program uniquely for you. Other therapies include:
  • Yoga therapy
  • 12-Step Programs
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Nutrition and Wellness Counseling

Mental Health Treatment in Colorado

Mental Health America, a non-profit group, reported that Colorado ranked 43rd of all the states in the commonness of mental health issues and access to treatment. It is predicted that over 19% of all residents of Colorado are living with some type of mental illness. Because of this, they are committed to helping people get a path to treatment.

SUDs are accompanied by mental health disorders, about 45% of the time. The total adult population of Colorado is 4.3 million. The number of people with schizophrenia is estimated to be about 48,000. It is estimated that 96,000 are dealing with severe bipolar disorder. Colorado has fewer psychiatric beds than most states, according to the American Hospital Association.

The Tri-County Health Department (Douglas, Arapahoe, and Adams counties) has been working with key partners on a new State Innovation Model (SIM) to decrease the stigma surrounding mental health and to increase access to integrated physical and behavioral health care.

Getting Sober for Life in Colorado

Just because you completed a treatment program, doesn’t mean you are through. Sobriety is something you will need to work at forever. Footprints to Recovery has programs than can help you make the transition to life long sobriety.

  • Sober homes—This is also sometimes called Independent living or Recovery homes. Recovery housing is a structured, drug-free environment. Members in the home are expected to contribute to the upkeep and do chores as assigned. You may work at an outside job, but will report back to the home each day. There are random drug tests and group sessions. The recovery home helps you transition out of the treatment program and into the real world with all its challenges. These homes are valuable tools for learning to cope and avoid relapse.
  • Alumni Community—Our Alumni Community at Footprints provides an opportunity for alumni, friends, and family to get together to support each other. We also promote community service activities. Research has shown that people who are involved in any type of after treatment are more likely to stay sober and drug-free.

What Other Recovery Activities are There in Aurora?

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)—AA’s 12-step programs are a proven and effective way to maintain your sobriety. Recovering alcoholics attend meetings and learn new ways to deal with their disease and the triggers that come with it. This is a huge aid in preventing a relapse. There are meetings held from 6:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. in Aurora. You can call them at 303-322-4440 or visit
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)—NA provides the same 12-step philosophy as AA but with the focus on individuals who have been dependent on narcotics. There are 23 listed meetings in the Aurora area. You can look up locations at
  • SMART Recovery—Self-Management and Recovery Training is “a global community of mutual support groups.” Participants in the meetings help each other with issues concerning any addiction, including alcohol, overeating, gambling, and drug use. The goal of SMART is to help you find and develop the power you have inside to change and conduct a balanced and fulfilled life. You can find out more about SMART and find a meeting at

After answering the big question of whether to go to treatment or not, the last hurdle is how to pay for it. Here are some options:

  • Insurance—Footprints to Recovery accepts most major insurance coverage. We will communicate with your provider to develop a plan for you. 
  • Tri-County Health Department—This agency helps residents of Arapahoe, Douglas, and Adams County get signed onto the health insurance they need.
  • Private Payment—Sometimes, insurance only pays a part of the cost. Or maybe you would rather not use your insurance at all. In these cases, we accept private payments and have flexible payment plans.
  • Financing—Prosper Healthcare has an affiliation with Footprints to Recovery and can provide special financing packages for treatment. You may also be able to obtain a personal loan from your bank.
  • State-Funded Treatment Centers— Call 800-780-2294 to find resources for help with alcohol, drug, and other issues. Free Rehab Centers ( searched government and non-profit organizations to find affordable, free, and sliding scale resources. There are seven sites in Aurora offering an array of treatment and counseling, from group therapy to management training in a mainly out-patient setting.
  • Medicaid—Medicaid is a federal program that provides medical insurance for low-income individuals and families, people with disabilities, pregnant women, and the elderly. If you are covered by Medicaid, then you are covered for substance abuse treatment. You can find rehab locations that accept Medicaid at 800-304-2219.
  • Free Rehab in Aurora CO–Call 800-780-2294 to find resources for help with alcohol, drug, and other resources. Free Rehab Centers ( searched government and non-profit organizations to find affordable, free, and sliding scale resources. There are seven sites in Aurora offering an array of treatment and counseling, from group therapy to management training.

Some Cool Information About Aurora, CO

The city of Aurora, Colorado, sits in three different counties: Arapahoe, Adams, and Douglas. It is just east of the city and county of Denver. But it is no longer considered just a suburb of Denver. It is growing and building an identity of its own.

Aurora is the third-largest city in the state, and it is known for its outdoor recreation, artistic exhibits, and relaxing atmosphere. It also deserves to be recognized for its 5-acre dog park and the world’s largest suspension bridge at Royal Gorge.

Aurora originated in the 1880s as the town of Fletcher. It was named after Donald Fletcher, a businessman who saw it merely as a real estate opportunity. After the Silver Crash of 1893, Fletcher skipped town, leaving a huge water debt for the community. Residents of Fletcher decided to rename the town Aurora in 1907.

In 1979, a science fiction theme park was proposed in Aurora. The park would use the sets of a $50,000,000 film based on the fantasy novel Lord of Light. But legal problems caused the project to be canceled. However, the script for the unmade film project was renamed Argo and was used as the cover for the “Canadian Caper”: the extraction of 6 diplomatic staff members trapped by the Iranian hostage crisis. You may remember the Academy Award winning film of the same name.

Get Help Today!

You are well aware that you need some help with a certain problem you haven’t been able to handle alone. At Footprints to Recovery, we can help you, and we want to help you succeed. Our treatment professionals will work with you to get your life back on track.

We have admissions specialists waiting to talk to you seven days a week. Whether it’s for you or a loved one, it’s time to make the commitment to living a full life. Let’s make this happen together! And Aurora is pretty cool too.

Questions about treatment options?

Our admissions team is available 24/7 to listen to your story and help you get started with the next steps.

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