Denver is the most populous city of Colorado, and is the state capital. Located in the South Platte River Valley, near the edge of the High Plains and the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, 682,545 residents inhabit this city. Nicknamed the “Mile-High City” because its elevation is exactly one mile above sea level, Denver is ranked as a Beta-World city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.
According to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine addiction is on the decline in Denver Colorado, with only 5.5% of people entering treatment for this problem in 2013. Overall, from 2002 through 2012, the rates of deaths due to cocaine have declined, with only 4 per 100,000 persons dying due to this drug. In 2013, heroin ranked fourth for the state’s treatment admissions, with 9% of people seeking rehab related to this illicit drug. The number of heroin addiction treatment admissions increased from 11% to 13% in 2013. Experts have noted an increasing number of new heroin users, which involves young adults who have switched to heroin from prescription opioids (RX, pain killers, Vicodin, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, pills, etc.) due to cost and availability.
Colorado Springs is located in the central east region of the state, being the home rule municipality and seat of El Paso County Colorado. Situated over one mile above sea level, Colorado Springs is near the Pikes Peak American Mountains on the edge of the Rockies. Statistics show that in Colorado Springs 17,400 people use marijuana, 7,600 people abuse prescription drugs, and 2,850 are addicted to cocaine. In 2013, 2,200 people were arrested for drug charges, and 1,700 DUIs in Colorado Springs that year as well. Fatal heroin overdoses have risen by 39% from 2012 to 2013, based on a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found that heroin overdoses increased from 91 people in 2012 to 118 in 2013.
Aurora is one of the main cities in the Denver-Lakewood-Aurora Metropolitan Statistical Area. With a population of 325,000, Aurora is located in Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties. This city currently has more than 100 parks and six award-winning municipal golf courses. The Star K Ranch is home to Aurora’s Morrison Nature Center, and this is a significant habitat for wildlife. In addition, The Plains Conservation Center offers 1,100 acres of native prairie land and hosts many conservation and educational programs.
People are turning to heroin in Aurora, CO because prescription pain killers and muscle relaxers are less available. In the Denver-Aurora region, 416,000 people have used an illicit drug in the last five years, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield-MSA areas, an annual average of over 400,000 persons aged 12 or older used at least one type of drugs in the past year. This represents 21% of the population for this area.
With 161,000 residents, Fort Collins is a small city of Colorado. The city of Fort Collins had a population boom in 1872, with an agricultural colony established there. Many settlers came to Fort Collins but tension between the new residents and native inhabitants led to political divisions in the new town. In the 1880s, sheep slaughter, stone quarry, and sugar-beet farming were the area’s industries, and in the early 1900s, this town was referred to as the “Lamb Feeding Capital of the World.” Fort Collins gained a conservative reputation in the 20th century, prohibiting alcohol beverages. According to statistics from the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force, there are 5,700 marijuana users, 938 cocaine abusers, and 2,500 people who abuse prescription drugs in Fort Collins, CO. Meth, club drugs, and cocaine are involved in most arrests in this city.
Boulder, CO is located at the base of the Rocky Mountains foothills. With a population of 97,400, Boulder is famous for its colorful Western history and youthful residents. It is the home of the University of Colorado, and receives high rankings in well-being, health, education and art. The median age in this city is 29 years, which is much lower than the nation’s median of 37 years. The average household income in Boulder is $57,100, and only 7.6% of families live under the poverty line.
Boulder, like many other Colorado cities, has a prescription painkiller problem. Prescription opioids ranked sixth for statewide treatment admissions during 2012, which was behind heroin, cocaine, alcohol (beer, wine, liquor), and methamphetamine (meth). Among city residents, the admissions related to legal opioids increased from 2.6% to 7.3%. RX drug use and addiction in Arapahoe, Jefferson, and Denver counties is a major problem, with drugs seized in this area including oxycodone and hydrocodone. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that Boulder and other Colorado cities ranked in the top percentile and second in the country for opioid prescription pain reliever non-medical use. The NFLIS laboratories noted that benzodiazepines were among the top 10 drugs seized in 2013.
An urban as well as suburban Colorado community that was formed in 1889. Charles Welch and W.A.H. Loveland platted a 13-block area of west Denver, which later became Lakewood. Incorporated in 1969 as Jefferson City, inhabitants wanted the name changed to Lakewood, which they voted for in a private election. In 2011, the city was named as an “All-American City.” According to the CDC, 23.4% of Colorado adults have at least one heavy drinking day. In addition, almost 20,00 people die from alcohol-related liver disease each year, and another 31,000 die due to accidents and homicides where alcohol is a factor. Many underage drinkers live in Lakewood, CO. The consequences of underage drinking include school problems, social issues, legal matters, physical and sexual assault, higher risk for suicide, disruption of normal growth and development, alcoholism and physical problems such as infections and illnesses.
Consisting mainly of farmland until 1953, Thornton, CO was a quaint town. Sam Hoffman purchased much of the town during this time and laid out the first fully planned community in Adams County. Hoffman wanted to offer full municipal services such as free trash pickup and recreation. He named Thornton after the former Colorado Governor Dan Thornton. In 1954, the Thornton Community Association was formed to guide the community development and the city’s first mayor was Oyer G. Leary.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Thornton has a total area of 27 square miles and population has increased from 13,000 in 1970 to 133,000 in 2015. Of the residents, 77.4% are white, 4.4% are Asian, 2% are African-American, and the remaining 20% are “other races”, including Native American, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander. The average household family is 3.32 in Thornton Colorado. In 2012, deaths involving the use of opioid analgesics increased in Thornton, with 35% of drug poisoning deaths in the state being due to painkillers. Additionally, 20% of drug-related hospitalizations are due to prescription pills. According to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, Colorado has seen an increase of 54% in oxycodone prescriptions from 2007 to 2017. Additionally, the Tri-County Health Department found that 19% of teens had participated in binge drinking during the last year and 23% admitted to smoking marijuana at least once.
The city of Arvada is located in Adams and Jefferson counties and is part of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood Metropolitan Statistical Area. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 111,700 people live in Arvada, CO. In this town, there are 44,427 households and 32% of them have children age 18 or younger in them. The average family size is 3, and the median family income is $78,600. In addition, the per capita income is $24,700, with only 6.4% of the population living below the poverty line. Arvada has seen an increase in crime (up 12%) in the last 20 years, based on a report from neighborhoodscout.com. These increases are related to stolen property and fraud, which is attributed to drugs. In 2012 alone, Arvada had 460 drug violation with many involving marijuana, methamphetamine, and heroin.
A northwest suburb of Denver, Westminster is a Home Rule Municipality in Jefferson and Adams counties. Westminster, Colorado has a population of 106,114, and is the seventh most populous city of the state. In 1858, gold miners discovered a lot of gold in the South Platte River Valley which brought national attention to this area. The first permanent white settler was Pleasant DeSpain who built a home in the region in 1870. Edward Bowles was instrumental in constructing the train depot in Westminster in 1881, and in 1891, the Westminster Castle was constructed and is located still today on W. 83rd Avenue. According to statistics, only 6.3% of people live below the poverty line in Westminster and the median family income is $63,780.
Based on a report by NIDA, methamphetamine addiction is the third highest proportion of drug treatment admissions into rehab for the city of Westminster and Jefferson County. In 2013, meth use was responsible for 17% of the entire state’s drug addiction treatment and therapy admissions. After cocaine, meth was the second most common drug to be analyzed by forensic laboratories in this city. The Drug Enforcement Administration Field Division ranks methamphetamine as a top drug threat for this region of Colorado.
The city of Centennial is located in Arapahoe County Colorado, and has a population of 101,000. Part of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood Metropolitan Statistical Area, Centennial is ranked as the 15th safest U.S. city. Formed in 2001, the name Centennial reflects Colorado’s 1870 admission to the Union as the 38th state, with this being the centennial year of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. A 2011 financial report found that Centennial’s top employers are Oppenheimer Funds, Comcast, United Launch Alliance, U.S. Foods, and Jones International University. According to a recent Arapahoe County Commission report, since 2004, there has been 164% increase in ER visits for overdoses on painkillers. In addition, an 86% increase has occurred in overdose deaths, which are related to prescription opioids.
Pueblo, Colorado has around 107,000 residents. Situated at the confluence of Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River, Pueblo is mainly semi-arid desert land, located in the “Banana Belt.” Known as one of the largest steel-producing cities in the U.S., this particular city is often called “Steel City.” Of all major cities in Colorado, Pueblo has the least expensive residential real estate. Known as a melting pot, at one point, more than 40 languages were spoken here. Groups who resided in Pueblo were primarily Irish, German, Italian, Slovenian, Jewish, Greek, Russian, Lithuanian, Japanese and Hungarian. Alcohol is the number one choice for teens and young people in Colorado. According to statistics, 50% of 9-12th grade students drink alcohol, with 80% having one or more drinks during their lifetime. Colorado adolescent alcohol use is 19% higher than the national average. Although drinking has taken a center stage, The Denver Post recently reported that in 2012 and 2013, heroin came to the Pueblo County region in epidemic proportions just like much of the entire country.
Located in Douglas County Colorado, Highlands Ranch has a population of 97,000. This town is unincorporated community 12 miles south of Denver. The Colorado Gold Rush brought many people to Highlands Ranch in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1978, The Mission Viejo Company purchased a large parcel of land, which later became the suburb of Highlands Ranch. According to the Census Bureau, 32% of residents are under the age of 18 years, and the gender makeup is 51% females and 49% males. The median income for a family is $114,000, which is well above the national average. In Highlands Ranch, only 1.6% of people living below the poverty line. In Colorado cities, like Highlands Ranch, teen alcohol and drug use and misuse is a problem. Data from a 2010 survey found that 36% of 8th graders have used alcohol, and by grade 12, that number increases to 70%. For Colorado, 80% of teenagers report that they have used alcohol at least once during their lives. In addition, 56% of Colorado teens report using at least one illegal drug by 12th grade.
In Greely, the median income for a household is $104,411. Only 1% of families live below the poverty line here which is much better than most of the United States. Greeley, CO is located in the Overland Trail station area. Lathan station was named after Milton S. Lathan, one of California’s senators in the 1800’s. Becoming a Union Colony in 1869, Greeley was an experimental utopian community which was named in honor of Horace Greeley, an editor of the New York Tribune who coined the phrase, “Go west, young man.” The racial makeup of this city is 79% white, 16% Latino or Hispanic, and 5% “other races.” According to a statewide survey which involved teens from Greeley, 19% of high school students drank alcohol before age 13 years. Additionally, 36% of adolescents reported they drank alcohol at least once during the past 30 days. Of those high school students surveyed, 22% admitted to having 5 or more drinks in a row during at least one episode that occurred within the month. Inhalant use among teens is also a problem, with 9% of Colorado youth admitting to sniffing glue or breathing from aerosol cans. An additional 7% of teens, ages 12 to 17, reported abusing prescription painkiller pills during the last year. A recent article in The Tribune cited that heroin is on the rise in Greeley, with a single gram of black tar heroin costing around $150 a bag on the streets. An addiction treatment specialist reported that 60% of patients at his clinic in Greeley were using heroin.
Located in the Home Rule Municipality of Weld and Boulder counties, the city of Longmont is 33 miles northwest of Denver. With a population of 87,000, Longmont was named for Long Peak, a mountain named for Stephen Long, an early explorer of the region. Longmont, Colorado is 83% white, 3% Asian, 1% Native American and 1% African American. “Other” races make up the remaining 12% of the state which includes Hispanics. Having an average family size of 3.15, Longmont has 29% of citizens under the age of 18 years. The top employers of the city are St. Vrain Valley schools, Seagate Technology, the Longmont United Hospital and Digital Globe.
In a large 2007 adolescent health survey, CO ranked in the top 10 for marijuana consumptioon among 12-year old children and those between ages 18 and 25 years. Young people in Colorado are also abusing prescription medicines at a high rate, with 29% of rehab admissions being for those 24 years of age or younger. 82% of Colorado youth report that they obtained these drugs from family members or a friend.
Founded in 1866 along the line of the Colorado Central Railroad and Big Thompson River, Loveland is in the Home Rule Municipality of Larimer County. Situated 46 miles north of Denver, Loveland has 72,650 residents. The city is named after William Loveland, the president of Colorado Central Railroad. The primary crops in the early 20th century were sour cherries and sugar beets. After a series of droughts in the mid-1900s, the cherry industry lost ground. Now, the city’s economy is based on Hewlett-Packard, Teledyne, and other equipment manufacturers. Loveland has a median income for family of $54,300, and only 4% of families live below the poverty line.
According to NIDA, there were 35 overdose deaths related to an opioid prescription drug in 2015 in Larimer County. This rate (81%) is up from 62% in 2011, based on results from the Larimer County Coroner’s Office annual reports. Opioid prescription drug addiction is a common problem in the U.S., but Colorado has seen an increase in painkiller use/abuse over the last decade. The drugs used by people in Loveland include hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and codeine.