State Among Worst for Drug, Alcohol Abuse

State Among Worst for Drug, Alcohol Abuse
Posted by FoM on February 05, 2000 at 12:05:17 PT
By Carol Kreck, Denver Post Staff Writer 
Source: Denver Post
Rocky Mountain highs are killing Coloradans."A wide range of indicators show Colorado has one of the worst alcohol problems in the country," Harvard Medical School researcher Dr. William McAuliffe said this week at a forum on substance abuse at Fort Logan sponsored by the Alcohol and Drug Division of the state Department of Human Services.
On an alcohol problem index, Colorado is second only to New Mexico, McAuliffe said. McAuliffe also said Colorado ranks:Third in alcohol mortality.Third in percentage of residents who are drug dependent.Fourth in need of substance abuse treatment programs.Yet Colorado is 25th in federal funding for alcohol treatment, said Janet Wood, director of the state's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division.Wood said no one is sure why substance abuse is so high here, but "overall, we have a younger demographic population.""We also have a high tourism rate," Wood said. She noted that the highest rate of substance abuse in the state was in its northwest sector, which includes Mesa County, Vail and Aspen."Finally we've got major interstates - I-70 and I-25 - which bring drugs into the state. They have to have an effect," Wood said.Considering drug use alone, Colorado doesn't look so bad. The state is 15th worst on the drug problem index, McAuliffe said. New York is No. 1, while North Dakota's rate is practically zero.In Colorado and nationwide, drug and alcohol abuse is on the decline as baby boomers age.However, abuse rates among young people generally are increasing.Heroin use has stabilized among adults older than 35, but young whites are using it more and more, "a cause for concern," said Bruce Mendelson, manager of Colorado Treatment Needs. Because purity has doubled, heroin death rates are way up - from 26 opiate-related deaths in 1990 to 135 in 1998.Methamphetamine use has increased in the 18-to-35 age bracket and among women.Colorado teens generally have a higher rate of drug abuse than their national counterparts - 11.9 percent of Colorado eighth-graders surveyed in 1998 had used marijuana sometime in the 30 days prior to the poll, compared to 9.7 percent of eighth-graders nationwide; 2.8 percent of Colorado 12th-graders surveyed reported cocaine use in the prior 30-day period, compared to 2.4 percent of 12th-graders nationwide.Surveying students may result in an under-reporting of teen drug use because teens who abuse drugs often drop out and aren't included in polls, Denver Public Schools officials said after the conference.Teen use of rave and "club drugs" seems to be on the decline except for "roofies," a slang term for Rohypnol, Mendelson said.Rohypnol, also known as the "date rape drug," can impair a victim for eight to 12 hours and cause individuals not to remember what they experienced while under the drug's effect.Published: February 5, 2000Copyright 1999-2000 The Denver Post. Related Articles:Drug Abuse Among Teenagers Leveling Off Abuse in Seattle Area is Town Hall Meeting
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