Drug Treatment in Thornton, Colorado

Treatments for substance use disorders require a continuum of care including detox, inpatient rehab, and aftercare.

While it’s not certain how many residents of Thornton, Colorado—145,688 in 2021—have a substance use disorder (SUD) or died from a drug overdose, the rate in Colorado as a whole is at record highs. Drug rehabs in Thornton, CO are needed more than ever.

Substance use disorder or a substance use disorder (SUD) refers to a wide range of behaviors and outcomes, not just overdose deaths. Any use of alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription medication other than as prescribed is abuse and may indicate a SUD, such as alcoholism or addiction.

Alcohol and drug use disorders are chronic medical conditions not unlike diabetes, asthma, or hypertension. While behavior can trigger them, there is also a biological predisposition that makes some people more susceptible than others.

The primary symptom of a SUD is the inability to stop the substance use or abuse despite the negative effects it has on the individual’s health, relationships, and life. That’s in large part because substance use disorder hijacks the brain, replacing the natural reward system with an artificial one.

For many people with SUD, regaining control is extremely difficult, even with professional help. Such help often isn’t available or individuals can’t find it or don’t look for it.

In 2021 state rankings, Colorado had:

  • The highest percentage of adults who needed but did not get drug treatment in the past year
  • The fourth highest percentage of adult drug users
  • The fifth highest percentage of teenage drug users (but the second-lowest percentage of teens offered, sold, or given drugs on school property).

In December 2021, a US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) bust in Thornton netted more than 100,000 pills of fentanyl—a super-potent synthetic opioid driving rise in drug overdose deaths—along with 24 pounds of cocaine, 13 pounds of methamphetamine, and 8 pounds of heroin

Only 11 miles from Thornton, in Denver Union Station, open drug use and drug sales are problems, according to RTD transit police. Much of that use is by homeless individuals, who in 2020 overdosed so often (at least 719 times last year) that supplies of Narcan (an opioid overdose reversal drug) can’t keep up.

Narcan isn’t a long-term solution to the opioid crisis. That requires increased availability of and access to substance use disorder treatment in Thornton, CO.


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Substance Use Disorder Treatment in Thornton, CO

Substance use disorder treatment involves a continuum of care that may begin before evidence of abuse (prevention) or SUD (early intervention) and should continue after the completion of treatment.

Once a SUD and the need for treatment becomes apparent, the first step is often detoxification or detox.

Drug Detox in Thornton, CO

Drug or alcohol detox is a natural process as the body eliminates all traces of the substance in the body. When someone has a SUD, this process causes withdrawal symptoms that can be uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes life-threatening.

Withdrawal makes stopping substance use difficult. Substance use disorder makes the body accustomed to the presence of the substance; without it, the body doesn’t feel normal. During withdrawal, an individual is not predisposed to doing the work necessary for recovery.

For this reason, most drug rehab facilities in Thornton, CO require detox before treatment begins. Often this takes place in a separate drug detox treatment center in Thornton, CO where individuals have access to medical care (if needed) around the clock.

Withdrawal at a drug detox facility in Thornton, CO can be managed and made less severe by:

  • Tapering off of the substance. If the substance is legal, such as alcohol or a prescription drug this is possible, though not with illegal drugs for which possession is always a crime such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine.
  • Agonist drugs. For opioid use disorders, drug detox centers in Thornton, CO offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT): safer, replacement drugs, including methadone and buprenorphine (in its abuse-resistant Suboxone formulation), that ease withdrawal symptoms without the addictive high.
  • Antagonist drugs. Naltrexone (especially in its once-monthly injectable form Vivitrol), blocks opioids’ high—causing instant withdrawal—and reduces alcohol cravings. Another drug that might be used by a drug detox center in Thornton, CO is acamprosate. It also blocks alcohol’s effects and reduces cravings. Disulfiram, however, causes nausea if alcohol use continues.

Withdrawal typically lasts anywhere from days to weeks, depending on the substance. Cold turkey (stopping abruptly) is particularly dangerous for alcohol use disorders and drug use disorders involving benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium). A gradual reduction in use is safer for those about to enter a rehab center for alcohol in Thornton, CO.

Once detox is complete, treatment in a drug rehab facility in Thornton, CO can begin.

Inpatient Drug Rehab in Thornton, CO

If detox was necessary, the SUD was probably severe enough that inpatient substance use disorder treatment in Thornton, CO is also needed.

Inpatient drug rehab centers in Thornton, CO are residential treatment centers. Individuals live at the treatment center 24/7. They eat, sleep, and work on recovery. They take their recreation on-site as well.

Treatment at inpatient drug rehabs in Thornton, CO usually involve:

  • Behavioral therapies. These are talk therapies or psychotherapies—such as cognitive-behavioral therapy—with a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist, one-on-one or in group therapy. Behavioral therapy should uncover the reasons for the SUD and teach how to cope without using substances in the future.
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Not just for detox, MAT is sometimes needed during rehab, too (although tapering is almost always the goal). Despite much of the public, policymakers, and some treatment center staff considering MAT to be just trading one addiction for another, the use of the opioids methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone) to prevent opioid use disorder relapse is one of the most effective evidence-based treatments available. MAT use as prescribed does not result in euphoria, only control of withdrawal.
  • Holistic treatments. Adjuncts to conventional treatments for which there is often little or no evidence. They may be based on alternative or traditional medicine and practices (acupuncture, meditation, yoga) or newer technologies or treatments (neurofeedback, transcranial magnetic stimulation). Some have their roots in psychotherapy (art and music therapy) or are mainly designed to help persuade people to stay in rehab (horse or equine therapy).
  • Twelve-step facilitation. Membership in a peer support fellowship (such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous) helps keep people in recovery after leaving an alcohol or drug addiction treatment center in Thornton, CO. So, many rehabs encourage such membership—even offering 12-step meetings on-site—before treatment ends. (Membership and meetings in other, non-12-step programs such as SMART Recovery may also be offered.)
  • Relapse prevention plan. Individuals will eventually leave drug addiction treatment in Thornton, CO. Since the best science says there is no cure for substance use disorders that doesn’t include risk of relapse, addiction planning for aftercare or continuing care should begin on day one. This may include psychotherapy, support groups, and sober living houses or communities.

As long as alcohol and drug use continue to rise and cost lives and treasure, drug rehab in Thornton, CO—and throughout the state, nation, and world—remains a priority.


Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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