CSU Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among The Highest in The Nation

Colorado is known for its sunshine, outdoor activities and being the healthiest state in the country. Ironically, it’s also known for its beer culture, liberal views on drug use and as having one of the highest rates of substance use in the nation.

A 2012 national survey done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that marijuana, alcohol and illicit drug use among adults age 18 to 25 in Colorado is among the highest in the country.

Likewise, a yearly survey done by CSU and compiled by the American College Health Association shows CSU with similarly higher numbers when compared to other campuses across the nation.

“These numbers are nothing new,” said Charles Smith, SAMHSA coordinator for the Rocky Mountain region. “Every year it’s relatively consistent data for our state in Colorado as well as for the region that includes Utah, Montana, North and South Dakota and Wyoming.”

There are three main reasons that our state ranks so high, Smith said.

Coloradans are less inclined to believe that drugs and alcohol are unhealthy for you. The substances also aren’t regulated as much as in other states, which leads to greater availability.

In addition, access to prevention programs and treatment centers is lower in Colorado then it is across the country.

“Every year when the numbers are released that question gets asked,” Smith said. “Attitudes are definitely a big part of it. We don’t see it as risky to use drugs and alcohol. We know if people think it’s risky they tend not to use.”

According to SAMHSA, 61.6 percent of adults aged 18 to 25 nationwide drank at least once in the last month. In Colorado, the number jumps to almost 69 percent.


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