Huddled at a computer screen at the Denver Recovery Group
, counselor Melissa McConnell looks at the latest urinalysis results for her client, Sara Florence.
Last fall, it lit up like a Christmas tree. Now it’s all clean. Florence says she stopped using heroin five months ago; she stopped using methamphetamine not long after that.
“Shooting it, smoking it, snorting it,” Florence says. “It’s horrible, just made me feel like crap, you know. But I’d still did it. Just makes no sense, you know. It’s just really addicting.”
Counselor Melissa McConnell and patient Sara Florence look at a computer screen at the Denver Recovery Group, a treatment center.
Meth is particularly insidious, she says, because it’s cheap, readily available and “very common. Everybody does it.”
Her assessment is in line with drug-overdose numbersfrom Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment, which show meth’s enduring presence in the state. The drug was found in the systems of 280 Coloradans who died of overdoses in 2017 — up sharply from the year before. That number was more than five times that recorded in 2012.
Denver Recovery Group’s executive director, Denise Vincioni, says her organization still sees “rampant use of methamphetamine.” It’s very difficult to treat on an outpatient basis, she says.
Admissions for the use of methamphetamine to what was once the state’s largest drug treatment facility — the now-closed Arapahoe House — almost doubled from 2013 to 2017. Statewide figures for meth-related treatment admissions have also risen steadily over the last five years. And there’s a new twist, Vincioni says: In the past, users mainly seemed to stick to one drug — opioid pills or heroin or cocaine. Now, they’re using those along with meth.