Number of people entering local addiction recovery program double amid coronavirus pandemic
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A Steamboat Springs-based addiction treatment center doubled the number of people in its recovery programs in March, despite the limitations imposed by public health orders.
The addiction center has accepted 11 people into some form of treatment, according to Executive Director Nancy Beste. That treatment ranges from mediation-assisted programs to group therapy.
Health and addiction experts have worried the weeks of social isolation, which is a way to stop the spread of COVID-19, may exacerbate addiction disorders as well as incidents of domestic violence.
“How we cope with that anxiety is very much dependent on multiple factors, including our circumstances, but one of the ways that people cope with it is by taking drugs,” Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told U.S. News on Thursday.
Beste acknowledged that among those who have entered recovery, there are many who are struggling to stay sober or have already relapsed amid the stress of the current crisis.
“One of the biggest challenges for recovery is isolation or not having a sober community to turn to,” Beste said. “Usually, when the going gets tough, that is when people struggle to stay on their new path.”
That is why Road to Recovery has committed to remaining open through the pandemic and has even ramped up its recovery services.
In March, Road to Recovery won a state grant that helped the center start an intensive outpatient program. It has allowed recovering addicts to have constant contact with behavioral health experts and fellow members of the group, all of which is being done online.
The program is already full, with more people on the waiting list, Beste said.
Starting Monday, April 6, Road to Recovery is hosting a group to help people who have loved ones or roommates suffering from addiction. The Community Reinforcement and Family Training — CRAFT — will host free virtual meetings for Steamboat and Hayden area residents every week.
The Steamboat group meets at 5:30 p.m. Mondays. The Hayden group meets at 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays. The Zoom ID for the meetings is 213-076-7025. For more information, people can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 970-761-2207.
Road to Recovery also has started a women’s trauma group to help those suffering from domestic violence during the crisis. The long periods of home confinement can often intensify interfamily tension, Beste explained. The group is meant to help women learn how to set boundaries and de-escalate conflicts, as well as teach healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress and anxiety.
The Colorado Office of Behavioral Health has lifted regulations that previously prevented Beste’s staff from getting full compensation for performing teletherapy services, she said, which allows them to be compensated fairly.
“We always had these groups people could join — we just weren’t getting reimbursed for them,” Beste said.
Despite not being able to meet face-to-face, those in recovery continue to keep in contact with one another over video and phone chats. Among them is Melinda McDowell, who will celebrate two years of sobriety May 1. She has been working as a peer support specialist for Road to Recovery, hosting group meetings and posting positive messages to the center’s social media.
“Just because we are all separated doesn’t mean we are alone,” she said.
When McDowell first entered recovery on the Front Range, she remembers a woman, also named Melinda, who was instrumental in making her feel understood and less alone as she carved a new path in life. Now, she is providing the same support in Routt County.
“I just want to be there to inspire people and help them along the way,” McDowell said.
Other local recovery groups also continue to meet through virtual platforms.
Steamboat Springs Alcoholics Anonymous has meetings every day of the week. For a full schedule, visit, steamboataa.org/online-meetings.
The Phoenix, a sober workout group, is offering virtual classes at thephoenix.org/virtual.
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The pandemic is wearing on a lot of people, especially frontline health care workers like Whittany Keating, a registered nurse at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs.