Glenwood Springs detox center to close Wednesday |

Glenwood Springs detox center to close Wednesday

Nelson Harvey
Post Independent contributor
Aspen CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The drug and alcohol detox facility based in the Garfield County Jail will close just after midnight Wednesday, according to a statement from Colorado West, the nonprofit organization that manages the county’s detox program.

In its place, Colorado West will ramp up other treatment programs and will partner with local hospitals to continue serving patients who need medical attention, according to Chriss Flynn, head of communications for the group.

The change leaves the county without a holding facility for intoxicated people who either do not face criminal charges or are not considered to be in medical danger.

“We will have to make greater efforts to find an alternative for those folks, whether it’s friends, family or something else,” said Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson. “But from a volume perspective, I can’t say it will have a huge impact on us.”

According to Wilson, that’s because many of the non-criminal “repeat customers” who wind up in detox are already referred to local hospitals when they’re too intoxicated to function on their own.

“Many of them are in medical danger anyway because of high blood-alcohol levels,” Wilson said.

To date, the only recourse for the hospital has been to detox those people in the emergency-room setting, an expensive and high-maintenance proposition.

Under the new system, Wilson said, there will be increased collaboration between the hospital and Colorado West to provide those people with treatment.

Both Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs and Grand River Hospital in Rifle have expressed support for the new approach, according to the Colorado West statement.

On Monday, the Garfield Board of County Commissioners approved a request from Colorado West to amend the group’s contract with the county. The revisions effectively end the county’s leasing of two cells at the Garfield County Jail for detox purposes and allow Colorado West to use county funds to expand other substance-abuse services aside from the detox program.

The changes, Flynn said, came out of the realization that there was a high rate of recidivism in the county’s detox program: Many individuals wound up in the drunk tank or a hospital bed repeatedly without receiving additional treatment.

“We were seeing the same people over and over again, so we wanted to engage them,” Flynn said.

Colorado West offers substance-abuse services throughout the northwestern part of the state. Flynn said in Eagle and Summit counties, the group has been able to convince 23 to 33 percent of detox patients to seek further treatment.

“Statistics and history show that ongoing treatment is significantly more successful in reducing intoxication compared to the social model of immediate detox monitoring currently offered at Garfield County Jail,” the Colorado West statement said.

To replace jail-based detox, the group plans to enhance its case-management services, offering more support and follow-up to those struggling with substance abuse, Flynn said.

Other treatment options the group will offer include private or group talk therapy and the use of medication to help break addiction patterns.

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