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Substance use

Last updated: June 10, 2022

Substance use is a serious public health problem that affects almost every community and family in some way. Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and the failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.

Addiction changes the brain. When addiction takes hold, the brain is rewired to function as if drugs and/or alcohol are life-or-death essentials for survival. It stops being a choice; it becomes a chronic, life-threatening disease like diabetes or arthritis.

But there is hope. Addiction care can be as effective as treatments for other diseases. There are many treatment models and levels of care to address the use or misuse of substances. Medication management, individual counseling, group counseling, residential and inpatient services, intensive outpatient counseling, and sober living facilities are all available to help a person work toward sobriety and maintain recovery.

For more information

National Institute on Drug Abuse:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:


Helpful videos

Dr. Corey Waller:

Changing Minds:


Local resources

If you or someone you care about is struggling with mental health or substance use concerns, Connections can help. Some services are free, and some are available on a sliding-scale basis.

The behavioral health specialists at Connections Adult Services can answer your questions; provide assessment, referrals to community providers, and other treatment options; and support you along the way. Call 970-221-5551.

Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Connections (CAYAC) serves Larimer County youth through age 18, as well as their families. Our goal is the early identification and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. CAYAC supports families in navigating the network of behavioral health services available to youth, while bridging gaps in care. Call 970-221-3308; services by appointment.

North Colorado Health Alliance, Colorado Opioid Synergy–Larimer and Weld (CO-SLAW) helps the community access naloxone to reverse opioid overdose, and connects people to medication-assisted treatment and counseling services.