New center offers help to youths who face substance-abuse problems |

New center offers help to youths who face substance-abuse problems

April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Glenwood Springs will soon be home to the Colorado and Roaring Fork river valleys’ only outpatient treatment center specifically for substance-abusing youth.

Community Health Initiatives – a Carbondale-based nonprofit organization committed to preventing and treating substance abuse among youth – has established a 2,000-square-foot facility across from Valley View Hospital. The Pathways Adolescent Recovery program will start as soon as an adolescent substance abuse counselor is hired and renovations are complete.

“We’ve been mainly focused on prevention and fundraising,” said Karyn Simmons, Community Health Initiatives program developer. “Our target date (to open) is anytime after this week.”

The organization received funding from a government grant through the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division of the Colorado Department of Human Services to create the facility. Private donations and grants from Copic Medical Foundation, Colorado Health Foundation, along with a corporate sponsorship from EnCana Corp., also support the project.

Approximately $185,000 – $65,000 in private donations – has been raised, Simmons said.

“We have received funding to sign a lease on a treatment locale and have done some renovations,” she said. “We also have money to hire a counselor full time. As soon as we hire the counselor, we will open our doors to the many youth in need of treatment services.”

With an estimated 250 area youth suffering substance abuse issues, an outpatient treatment facility is a necessity, Simmons said.

“The need is so great that people have been jumping on board to support it,” she said. “We’ve had a few referrals already. With inpatient facilities such as Colorado West and the Youth Recovery Center, you can’t get in there unless you fail an outpatient treatment facility. Kids are being sent out of the community for outpatient help. We intend to see 250 kids a year.”

Youths participate in the Pathways Adolescent Recovery program anywhere from 9-12 weeks, depending on the individual, Simmons said. The program includes an after-care program once a week for two years to help youth stay sober. A referral is not required for participation – any parent or concerned health care professional may contact Community Health Initiatives with concerns about a substance-abusing youth.

“We will do completely free assessments,” Simmons said.

One goal of the program is to focus on family during the recovery process. Once a week the facility will host family night, where youths and their families can enjoy a sit-down dinner together.

“Our goal is to provide a high-quality, cost-sensitive treatment program for substance-abusing youth in the region,” said Shelley Evans, CHI executive director who developed the Pathways Adolescent Recovery program in March 2005, in a press statement.

Leading up to the opening of the Pathways Adolescent Recovery facility, Community Health Initiatives has been working with Garfield County – specifically the Rifle community – with alcohol and drug abuse prevention. The state’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division completed surveys designating Rifle as one of the communities needing prevention plans.

“Garfield County is one of the top 10 counties in the state with the highest substance abuse problems,” Simmons said. “They did readiness surveys and Rifle was ranked high … on top for community readiness. We have identified Rifle and two Colorado Mountain College campuses as the three communities most in need of a prevention plan.”

The goal of the plan is to reduce binge drinking, drunken driving and riding with drinking drivers, Simmons said. Community Health Initiatives also hopes to identify a health educator at CMC campuses to prevent the use of substances in college communities, she added.

“In order to accomplish these goals, CHI is working with retailers to form a responsible retail panel, sponsoring a media campaign to inform public about youth alcohol laws, youth access to alcohol and support for the local police department,” Simmons said. “This work is fulfilling CHI’s mission of community prevention and is currently funded.”