Women in Colorado who are involved in substance abuse are typically using these seven substances. While alcohol is the most commonly used substance in Colorado, marijuana comes in at a close second. Heroin and other opioid indicators ranked high as well and is seeing an increase year after year.

Women who are using or abusing the following substances are at a high risk for varying social problems like unplanned pregnancy, child abuse, car accidents and crime involvement. Many of the substances on this list can potentially alter your thinking and judgement which leads to health risks.

In Colorado, substance abuse among women in the reproductive age is the most prevalent. Over 20% of women in Colorado that are binge drinkers are between the age of 18-44. Furthermore, 15% use illicit drugs which includes misuse of prescription drugs. These are stats were put together before the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. While smoking declined among women in the reproductive age, binge drinking and use of illicit drugs didn’t see a significant decline. Colorado is one of the top ten states that sees the highest rates of alcohol and drug use among adults. It has the second highest rate of opioid abuse in the U.S.

1. Alcohol

While there is heavy use of illicit drugs in Colorado, the most used substance for women is alcohol. It is the main reason people admit themselves into treatment centers, it’s the main reason people call poison control centers and the main source of drug-related hospital discharges. It also accounts for the most drug-related deaths in Colorado.

It’s not that drinking alcohol is a problem, it’s that so many women in Colorado drink far too much. It can cause problems due to your actions as well as long term health issues. Overdrinking can cause a change in behavior and make it more difficult to make clear decisions. In women, the inability to think clearly has been said to create situations like unplanned pregnancy and crime involvement.

Health wise, drinking can:

  • Damage the heart when you abuse alcohol long term. Stroke and high blood pressure are some of the outcomes from alcohol addiction and abuse. Women experience twice the blood pressure spike that men do.
  • Liver damage and inflammation from drinking excessively and often can cause, fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis.
  • Alcohol will cause the pancreas to produce toxic substances. This can cause inflammation and swelling of blood vessels in the pancreas. Also known as pancreatitis, it prevents you from digesting properly.

2. Marijuana

Marijuana comes after alcohol when it comes to substance abuse by women and has consistently resulted in the highest number of treatment admissions in Colorado. The long-term effects include mental health problems, respiratory infection and chronic cough (if smoked.)

Another aspect specific to Colorado and women using marijuana is that women are using it while pregnant. It’s allowed to use medicinal marijuana in Colorado but it’s not okay to use if you’re pregnant. Child Protective Services may intervene regardless of why you’re using the substance.

While there is no FDA approved drug to help you withdraw from marijuana, there is behavioral therapy that is used in women’s rehabilitation centers in Colorado. The therapy includes:

  • Motivational incentives
  • Contingency management
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy

3. Methamphetamine

Methamphetamines are the second most common drug that are causing women to seek out treatment admissions in Colorado after marijuana. In 2012, treatment admissions for Methamphetamine addiction represented nearly 12% of the total admissions. Stimulants like Methamphetamines ranked fourth in Colorado for drug-related hospital discharges. Heavy trafficking from Mexico has caused an influx in the availability of the drug.

Also known as crank, Methamphetamines are a highly addictive stimulant. The long term side effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Weight loss
  • Extreme deterioration of the teeth, also known as “Meth mouth”
  • Intense itching that leads to skin sores from incessant scratching
  • Increase of blood pressure

Although Methamphetamines are highly addictive, no FDA approved medication is available. The recovery for women in Colorado relies on behavioral therapy and includes:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management
  • The Matrix model, a style of treatment created specifically for aiding the recovery of stimulant substances. It includes different therapeutic styles along with psychological orientation. An intensive outpatient program follows which includes several hours of treatment daily, several times a week. The Matrix model lasts for 16 weeks but can be extended if needed.
  • 12-Step facilitation therapy

4. Cocaine

Colorado is one of the highest-ranking states for cocaine use in comparison to the rest of the country. The risks involved with using cocaine include possible HIV from sharing needles. Drinking alcohol with cocaine can be heighten the risk of an overdose and sudden death.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Increased appetite
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Movement and thinking slows down
  • Restlessness

Cocaine doesn’t have an FDA approved medication that helps you stay clean. The behavioral therapy is therefore quite intense as the withdrawal can be quite intense.

  • Determining why you started using cocaine in the first place is a good first step.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Motivational incentives
  • The matrix model
  • 12-Step facilitation therapy

5. Heroin

Heroin addiction detox and rehab admissions in Colorado have been on the rise since 2008. As of 2010, the increase was about 7% while in 2011, it was up to 8%. Heroin wasn’t one of the top mentioned drugs that caused death in Colorado but there was an increase nonetheless. Heroin comes from the poppy plant before being refined to morphine. Further chemicals modify it to heroin and although it gained deserved negative press, it’s commonly abused in most states in the U.S. Heroin’s demographic has changed over the past few years. Women and teens are now joining the epidemic of heroin use across the country.

Some of the side effects when using heroin include:

  • Risk of infectious diseases like HIV or hepatitis due to needle sharing.
  • Mental health issues like drastic personality changes and depression.
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Lack of menstruation
  • Septum and nose tissue damage (when snorting)

When you heavily use heroin, your life begins to unravel because nothing else matters. This can lead to losing your children, losing your partner, being fired from your job, increased financial concerns and potential legal issues. For women, using while pregnant puts serious risk to your unborn child. You may miscarriage or the baby can be born with a low birth weight. Worse still, your child could be born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, and be dependent on heroin with the pain of withdrawal effects.

FDA approved medications to help you with detox and rehabilitation include naloxone, suboxone, Methadone, buprenorphine. Some activate opioid receptors the same way heroin does while others block the effects of heroin from reaching the receptors, so you can’t feel heroin effects.

Behavioral therapy should also be used in conjunction with medication. For example, inpatient/outpatient treatments that will offer ways to modify your behaviors and allow you to make healthier decisions.

6. Opioids

While opioid related deaths are not as prevalent in Colorado as other states, it still exists. In 2015, a total of 472 died from a natural or synthetic opioid whether it was legal or illegal. This number includes heroin, fentanyl, and methadone. Oxycodone, Percocet, and codeine are some of the prescription drugs that women in Colorado have become addicted to. Misuse of pain relievers that are like heroin are administered for pain and for helping people stay off illegal drugs like heroin. There has been an increase of overdose rates in females between 2000 and 2015 by 125%.

The long-term effects are unknown.

FDA approved drugs include, methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. Along with medical treatment, there should be behavioral therapies that help treat addiction.

7. Synthetic Drugs

As of 2012, there were reports of an increase in synthetic drugs. This included large amounts of DMT, ground acacia bark. Synthetic cannabinoids are also showing to be on the increase. Bath salts are in this category but it’s difficult to gain data on the usage in Colorado because there are few indicators associated with them. Drugs that contain synthetic chemicals related to a stimulant found in the khat plant are increasing in popularity.

Synthetic drugs can cause side effects while they’re in your system, making the high feel terrifying. Possible side effects can include; Violent behavior, paranoia, vomiting, sweating, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Bath salts can cause long term side effects like kidney failure, a breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, or death.

Those who use synthetic drugs believe they’re harmless so by the time you become aware you have a problem, it’s often too late to stop cold turkey. When using synthetic marijuana like cannabinoids or bath salts, it will eventually become an addiction.

Recovery programs for women in Colorado will help you identify with others who are fighting with similar addictions. You will often participate in both one on one therapy and group therapy. Holistic rehab helps the body regain health again which is important for the prevention of using synthetic drugs again.