New detox approach debuts with X Games
ASPEN – An acute-intoxication unit staffed by medical professionals will make its debut during this week’s Winter X Games, but organizers plan to make it available for other big Aspen events and holiday weekends, as well.The Aspen Hope Center, an entity focused primarily on mental-health services and suicide prevention, has arranged for the unit at the Rio Grande Room (the former youth center) in downtown Aspen for the duration of the X Games, which started Thursday and conclude Sunday.Last year, The Right Door in Aspen, which deals in substance abuse, was available as a detox center during the X Games until 2 a.m. each day. But with the bars emptying of patrons in the wee hours, long after each day’s competition has wrapped up at Buttermilk, the need for the unit hardly ends at 2 a.m.”It’s definitely a party weekend,” said Carrie Marsh, vice president for advancement with the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, which oversees the Hope Center.The unit will be staffed by two individuals who specialize in substance abuse – Dr. Benjamin Lipman, psychiatrist, and registered nurse Laurie Cohen – with support from Hope Center clinicians. Lipman was brought in to participate through the Hope Center’s ongoing partnership with the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine. He has staffed acute-intoxication units for the Burning Man festival in Nevada.The unit will remain in operation “until the hubbub ends” – sometimes at 4 or 5 a.m., according to Gabe Muething, operations manager for the Aspen Ambulance District.Often, people who are intoxicated don’t have a medical problem, but they do need a place to go to sober up in a safe environment, Muething said.The Hope Center intends to offer the service at various major events, including the annual Aspen Food & Wine Classic and the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival, on New Year’s Eve and on other major holidays that fall on a weekend.The Buttermilk venue, where the X Games take place, is actually an alcohol-free environment except for well-secured VIP areas, but authorities deal with intoxication there nonetheless, Muething noted.”We’ve made it so well known that people can’t buy any alcohol here that we see people who drink before they get here,” he said Thursday via cellphone from Buttermilk.Aspen Ambulance has ramped up its service for X Games weekend, nearly quadrupling its regular staff, Muething said. Two ambulances are kept at Buttermilk, and two are stationed in downtown Aspen each evening.The need for detox during past iterations of the X Games has varied from as few as a couple of individuals who need assistance over the course of a night to as many as 20, according to Muething.Having one centralized place to bring people, staffed by professionals, will help authorities gather more accurate data about the need, he said.The Aspen Hope Center, which opened in June 2010, provides a 24-hour crisis-intervention line (970-925-5858) and fielded 1,364 calls last firstname.lastname@example.org
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