Fighting Addiction in Aspen

December 1 2004, 8:00 AM

In October, 2003, "Right Door" opened its doors in Aspen to help residents of the Roaring Fork Valley. It's a community outreach program, providing contacts, networking and counseling support, rather than inpatient drug treatment. After all, this is Aspen, and real estate is way out of reach for the typical residential drug program.

The Right Door is the valley's solution to expensive detox facilities and inpatient counseling. Its mission is to help people into recovery programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, or programs offered by the Aspen Counseling Center. ..."We're substance abuse case management - we're helping people get connected and referring them to the intensive outpatient center at the Aspen Counseling Center."

The program has just released its first yearly progress report and it seems to be a winner. First off, it had a 10 percent success rate. That's a good number. Ask a therapist how many patients they see in a year. The number might be 500. Then ask them how many have relapsed in the the first year. The answer likely will be 500.

Then there are the demographics: Most of the program's clients are between 21 and 50 years old. Most are not in committed relationships. Most have a high school or better education. Most call for help during the winter and summer rather than off-season. (One curious omission: the article did not include a break-out figure by gender.) This program is succeeding because of the support behind it, that includes "the hospital, the police department, the sheriff's office, the jail and the court system." "Right Door" is funded mostly by local government grant money. It's never enough, and they gladly accept donations, so if you've got a slot open on your holiday gift list, give them some thought. After all, if you can make it happen in Aspen, you make it happen anywhere. Today, Aspen... tomorrow Denver, Aurora, Littleton, Golden and Brighton. Give generously.