Findings by the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicate an overall upward trend in abuse of methamphetamine, heroin, and prescription opioids and opiates aside from heroin for the 2013 reporting period. The following is a brief summary of the Institute’s additional findings on abuse of illicit drugs and alcohol and specifically drug abuse patterns in the Denver metropolitan area:
Despite some mixed tendencies, based on treatment admissions data, hospital discharges, accessibility, and the National Survey for Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), marijuana continues to be a persistently abused drug in Colorado and specifically in the Denver/Boulder metro-area. However, percentages of marijuana drug seizures and testing decreased both in Colorado and in the Denver/Boulder area, as legalization has contributed to fewer arrests and court cases.
An evaluation of Colorado and Denver/Boulder area indicates that methamphetamine accounted for the third highest proportion of treatment admissions and drug-related fatalities and hospital discharge rates- a minor increase from the previous year.
During the first half of 2013, cocaine indicators for the state and Denver/Boulder area indicated gradual downward trends, including treatment admissions, drug-related deaths, and hospital discharges. The Denver Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, contributes the new low number of cocaine admissions to an irregular supply of lower quality drug with a higher price.
During the first half of 2013, heroin rated fourth in admissions across the state, and increased to 9.1 percent of all admissions, including alcohol, based on treatment admissions information, accessibility, and drug-related deaths.
Across the state and in the Denver/Boulder area, prescription opioids/opiates (narcotic analgesics) other than heroin, represented a smaller, but increasing, percentage of treatment admissions compared to other drugs. They ranked fifth in statewide treatment admissions, jumping ahead of cocaine. Additionally, indicators for narcotic analgesics other than heroin showed upward trends in indicators, including hospital discharges and drug-related fatalities.
Benzodiazepines and Other Sedative Hypnotics
These types of drugs accounted for less than 1.0 percent of statewide and Denver metro-area treatment admissions in the first half of 2013. They did, however, increase dramatically in both the number and proportion of alcohol and drug-related fatalities in Denver.
Illicit drugs excluded, alcohol continued to be Colorado’s most commonly abused substance and represented the greatest number treatment admissions, poison control center calls, drug-related hospital discharges, and highest drug-related fatalities in this reporting period.
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