What's harming Colorado more: Alcohol or Marijuana use?

Kelly E.

Marijuana has been legal since November 2012 and has boosted tax revenue by $2,344,036,689 in that time.

Teens are drinking more than smoking pot in Colorado.Photo byBy zinkevych

Some say it benefits Colorado to have legalized marijuana:

Others say it's caused more harm than good and the taxes from marijuana aren't being spent where they're needed.

But what about our other legal drug: Alcohol?

Is drinking harming Colorado residents?

In 2018 a Colorado Substance Abuse report stated that Colorado high schoolers use alcohol at a higher rate than any other substance.

Alcohol is also the easiest substance for Colorado youth to obtain. One of three high school students report currently drinking alcohol, a rate that didn’t change from 2013 to 2015.

Compare that to marijuana.

One of five middle school and high school students report currently using marijuana, a rate that didn’t change from 2013 to 2015.

Alcohol is easier to get, but what about dangerous driving and teens? In 2019, kids were twice as likely to drive high than drunk.

What about adults?

Excessive alcohol leads to more than 1,800 deaths in Colorado each year.

Excessive alcohol is:

  • binge drinking (5+ alcoholic drinks on an occasion for men, or 4+ drinks for women),
  • heavy drinking (8+ drinks per week for women or 15+ drinks per week for men),
  • any alcohol use by pregnant people or those under 21 years old.
In 2010, excessive alcohol use cost the state of Colorado approximately $5 billion, with more than $3.75 billion linked to binge drinking.--Healthwatch Binge Drinking Report, Colorado

Harmful and expensive, then.

What's the harm in drinking?

"Research shows that anxiety and mood disorders commonly co-occur with alcohol use disorder, and depression is the most common among them."--AARP

But aren't those people drinking because they're depressed? What comes first?

Colorado's Patrick Fehling, M.D., an addiction psychiatrist at the UCHealth Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation in Aurora, told AARP that:

“the real problem is drinking.”

The more you drink, the more likely you are to develop Major Depressive Disorder.

Then of course, there's the other problems associated with alcohol--drink driving, family violence, injury and crime.

Join the Conversation

What's worse in your opinion? Marijuana or Alcohol?

How should we deal with it in Colorado? What would you like to see?

Tell us in the comments and share this story so others can join the conversation.

If suspect that you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol or drugs, you can contact one of the Colorado Aspenridge Recovery Center or have an appointment online.

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Your spotlight on Colorado local news and events. Join the conversation. Kelly is a viral online writer, bylines in Apple News Spotlight, Yahoo!, Business Insider, Thought Catalog and more.


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