More Colorado Springs teens turn to substance abuse amid pandemic

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Springs seeing an uptick in drug use since the coronavirus pandemic started, that’s according Sandstone Care, a drug addiction treatment center for teens and young adults who’ve lost other opportunities to keep themselves busy.

“And so, they’re starting that experimentation and the use is rising faster than we would see without a pandemic, because we see clients who have opportunities to engage in social activities, go to sports, attend school in person. And so, when they lose all of those abilities to connect, then we’re seeing clients turning to substances for support,” said Sarah Fletcher, Clinical Director for Sandstone Care. 

Fletcher says the pandemic may have exacerbated the idea of social isolation, but it’s something we’re already dealing with.

“What’s fascinating now is that this generation of young people grew up with a natural increase in isolation, due to the introduction of technology and social media. We’re seeing a large increase in the use of social media, which is also naturally creating that isolation because there’s an increase in use of technology,” Fletcher said. 

And the consequences are clear.

The El Paso County coroner’s office recorded 10 additional fentanyl-related deaths so far in 2020, a big increase from 2019.

Sandstone Care says fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin, is highly addictive, and often deadly.

“Having this facility here is really going to help people who realize that they are struggling with substances. They’re struggling with anxiety, depression, other mental health disorders,” said Jess Barry, Clinical Outreach and Aftercare Manager for Sandstone Care.

Sandstone Care serves those ages 13 to 30, offering group, family and individual therapy.  

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