City still hopeful about detox grant |

City still hopeful about detox grant

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen is waiting to hear about a grant that could help the city get its own detoxification center up and running.

The grant would provide the city with $1.2 million over three years to run a facility, and this is the second year in a row that the city has applied for the funding. So far, only a rating system has been returned to the city from the grant providers, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Kris Marsh, executive director of the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, said the city’s grant request scored slightly lower this year than last year, but she still holds out hope that Aspen will get some funding for a detox unit and recovery center.

“The essence of the request is that it’s not just a holding facility or an overnight place to get sober,” she said. “It would also be somewhere to facilitate getting treatment, with in-patient treatment for three to five days. That’s what makes this a unique proposal.”

The city’s lack of a detox center has been a cause for concern over the past 20 years, as Aspen has never housed a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week recovery center for drug abusers – alcohol or otherwise. A small operation was run for a few years at the Health and Human Services Building, but currently the closest center is run by Colorado West Recovery Center in Glenwood Springs, a type of regional detox center.

Aspen Police Chief Loren Ryerson said from July to December 2001 there were two people referred to Colorado West from law enforcement personnel and four personal referrals. He said the center’s location in Glenwood Springs does hinder the number of referrals the police make.

“It would be a lot more convenient for officers to place people locally than send them to Glenwood Springs,” he said. “There is the cost of the transportation, and then there’s the matter of if they have room or not.”

The process is also dependent on a detox subject’s willingness to be transported downvalley for treatment. And at an estimated $244 per trip, it’s an expensive option.

“There is a sort of ‘if you build it, they will come’ theory about this, because it would be convenient, and there would be no expense to transport people to Glenwood Springs,” Marsh said. “When there was a detox here, its numbers were about 160 to 200 people a year.”

Marsh said while there still is no set location in Aspen for a detox center, she hopes the medical foundation, along with the “recovering community” can help raise money to build a facility, ideally near the hospital campus. Any money from the grant is meant to fund operation, not construction, of the facility.

The Aspen City Council provided the money to hire a grant writer for this particular request.

“I think there is a general feeling in the community that we ought to be taking care of our own issues here and not shipping them to another community,” Ryerson said.

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