City of Aspen and Pitkin County officials are working with Colorado West Regional Mental Health to have a new facility up and running by the new year that will treat people who require medical detoxification.
The facility would provide a place for intoxicated people, who don’t need other medical attention, to go to sober up. It would also include an on-call staff to respond during those situations and to monitor the patients, said Colorado West CEO Sharon Raggio. The program would also include a follow-up counseling service to encourage people abusing substances to enter into treatment, she said.
“Often people who need a detox are people who are well into addiction,” Raggio said.
Colorado West has operated programs like the one in the works in Eagle and Summit counties, Raggio said. Between 23 and 33 percent of people who underwent detox in those communities have sought treatment, she said.
“That’s a very high number,” Raggio said of the percentage.
The hope is to implement it at the beginning of January and possibly by New Year’s Eve, Raggio said.
Discussions on details of the new facility, like where it will be located and how it will be paid for, are still underway, Raggio said. One of the reasons those decisions are taking time is because the state government needs to approve the detox facility’s location, Raggio said. One site that is being considering is the Schultz Health and Human Services Building across from Aspen Valley Hospital, said City Manager Steve Barwick.
The idea is to create a semi-permanent model for treating intoxicated patients in the area, by sharing the program’s costs between nonprofits and government agencies in the community, Barwick said. The city and county would likely contribute to it on a yearly basis, but how those costs would be divvied up has not been decided, he said.
The effort is a reaction to the recent closure of the nearest detox center in Glenwood Springs and the planned closure of Aspen’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation program called The Right Door.
The Glenwood Springs facility, based in the Garfield County Jail, was run by Colorado West and shut its doors last month. Meanwhile, The Right Door is scheduled to close at the end of the year. The program does not have its own detox center, but it provides patients with transportation to nearby facilities and other treatment programs, while offering other counseling services to treat substance abuse. The city of Aspen hasn’t had a detox facility within its borders since the demise of the Aspen Recovery Unit, which was founded by the late Ruth H. Brown. It shut down in 1993.