Portrait of a Denver Heroin Addict December 6th, 2019 The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake
Blog & News Portrait of a Denver Heroin Addict

Portrait of a Denver Heroin Addict

Woman and man hugging.

Information from several studies has revealed new information about heroin addicts in Denver and helped a portrait of Colorado heroin addiction to emerge. While it is important to note that heroin addicts in the study represented all demographic groups, some trends can be observed that may identify the experience and lifestyle of many addicts.

One of the studies used surveyed patients currently receiving methadone as part of their Colorado heroin addiction treatment, while the other study used information from statewide treatment facilities that was collected by the Drug and Alcohol Coordinated Data System (DACODS)of the  Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health.

Lifestyle of a Denver Heroin Addict

The information from both studies showed that about half of all Denver heroin addicts are unemployed or not working for some reason. Some are disabled, some are unemployed, but only 37-39 percent of addicts were holding down a job, and nearly half of those were only employed part-time. The median household income of heroin addicts was only about $25,000 a year.

The majority of heroin addicts surveyed (nearly 80 percent in one study) had never been married or were divorced, which indicates that a lack of social connection may significantly impact addiction. While it is difficult to say whether the addiction caused the social isolation or the other way around, it is nevertheless an important finding.

Denver heroin addicts are likely to be white non-Hispanics between the ages of 25 and 34, the study found. The next biggest age group was 35 to 44. Only 4 percent in one study were black, and 17 percent were Hispanic. A majority of more than 60 percent owned or rented their home, despite being unemployed and having low incomes.

Only 10 percent of Denver heroin addicts had failed to finish high school, with nearly 60 percent having had some college or a 4-year degree and 30 percent having a high school diploma or GED. While more males than females were receiving treatment for heroin addiction, the gap had narrowed to 60 percent male and 40 percent female by 2016.

White powder in a spoon with a syringe and pills.

White powder on a table and in a spoon with a syringe and pills nearby.

It is likely that most heroin addiction in Colorado started with opioid prescription painkillers before progressing to heroin use, with 70 percent of respondents in one study reporting that previous painkiller use had played a part in their addiction and that they typically started using prescription opioids at around age 18.

Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said that they were given heroin for free by a friend or family member the first time they used it, and the average age of first use was 22. Black tar heroin was the most popular form of the drug for first use, and users were fairly split between smoking or injecting the drug.

While it is important to avoid stereotypes of addicts and to note that this portrait does not represent every heroin addict in Denver and Colorado, noting trends can be useful in providing the best possible treatment options and trying to get more addicts into treatment for their heroin addictions.

If you or any of your loved ones struggle with heroin or any other addiction, there are Denver rehab options that can help. The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake offers treatment for heroin addiction and many other types of substance abuse. We would love for you to reach out for help and support as you confront this powerful addiction. Contact us today for more information.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.