Forging new lives: The Foundry guides participants through addiction recovery
Attending The Foundry:The cost to attend the Foundry varies based on whether a person commits to a recommended 90-day program or a shorter period of time. The full 90-day program is $82,500, or about $917 per day. The 30-day program is $32,500, or about $1,083 per day. The Foundry works with insurance companies on an out-of-network basis, and companies many companies have covered a substantial portion of the cost for many participants attending the program. Typically, insurance companies are more likely to cover medical components of the program, including testing and clinical therapy, but are less likely to cover some wellness components, such as a hot air balloon ride. The Foundry offered discounted costs during its initial six months of operation in order to attract enough participants to run a beneficial treatment program, but staff said they now have enough interest to run the program at its regular cost.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The holidays weren’t looking too bright for Aaron Gasper last year.
The young man from Ohio had become addicted to heroin and was watching all of the best things in his life slip away.
“A year ago, almost to the day, I was homeless, jobless, carless. I was hopeless,” said Gasper, now 29.
But on Dec.16, 2015, Gasper found himself 1,300 miles from home in Steamboat Springs, eager to give up drugs and rebuild his life.
The Foundry Treatment Center was new, having just opened that October, but a team of treatment experts was ready to provide Gasper the tools he needed to change his life.
First, he had to detox.
“I was pretty delusional,” said Gasper, who vaguely remembers spending four or five days in The Foundry’s Steamboat Springs detox center.
“I was told I was actually the worst detox any staff member had seen in their careers,” Gasper remembers.
After detox, Gasper was moved to The Foundry’s residential treatment program for an intensive 90 days of group meetings, individual therapy and wellness activities, all aimed at setting him up to re-enter society and stay clean.
While Gasper didn’t exactly have a smooth re-entry into society — he had to serve 90 days in jail for going out-of-state for treatment without permission — today, he’s living a life he appreciates and accepts.
“One of the things I learned at The Foundry is just acceptance. Keep moving forward and accept things the way they are,” Gasper said. “And now I’ve got my career back, I’ve got my family back, I’ve got my house back. I didn’t think I would have all this back so quickly.”
Gasper believed so strongly in the program that when he completed treatment, his mother, an alcoholic, took his place in the residential facility.
“I knew that it worked for me, and I was convinced it would work for her too,” he said.
Gasper hopes this winter to return to The Foundry to visit and to share his story with others.
“I’m convinced at this point, the reason I’m still sober is that I’ve continued to practice maintaining the balance between mind, body and spirit that they preached the entire time I was there,” Gasper said.
Founding The Foundry
When lifelong Steamboat Springs resident Scott Borden set out to open the first of its kind drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in his hometown, not all members of the community welcomed the idea, at least not in their own backyard.
Borden first filed his plans for renovating a property on Highway 131 south of Steamboat Springs in December 2014, and by the following spring, concerned neighbors had come forward to oppose Borden’s proposal, claiming that a rehab situated among historic ranchlands and family homes wasn’t appropriate.
Though the Routt County Planning Commission voted down Borden’s request for a 24-bed facility because of the intensity of use, the final decision was up to the Routt County Board of Commissioners.
Two of three commissioners agreed that the intensity of use, even for a modified 18-bed facility, was too great for the location.
Despite disapproval from neighbors and some county officials, Borden was able to move forward with a 12-bed facility in the existing home on his 48-acre property.
Because people recovering from addiction are protected under the American Disabilities Act, establishing The Foundry became a “use by right” under county zoning regulations.
Borden got to work renovating an existing six-bedroom house on the property, updating the kitchen to commercial grade, installing video surveillance equipment on the exterior and in group areas to monitor participants and updating an on-site barn into a fully equipped fitness center.
The home was spruced up, a walking path was cut out around the 48-acre parcel and a new gardening space was established.
“If anything, we’ve provided an upgrade to the neighborhood,” Borden said.
There haven’t been any issues with neighbors since opening the facility last October, and Borden said he’s hopeful neighbors are realizing The Foundry’s value to the community.
From detox to daily life
A treatment journey at The Foundry for every participant begins with detox, which can last anywhere from 24 hours to five days, depending on the condition and level of substance dependence of the person joining the program.
“Detoxing is the worst part of the process,” said Borden, who himself is in recovery.
Admissions Director Scott Kindel meets participants when they deplane in Denver and then drives them out to Steamboat in a vehicle stocked with movies and snacks.
Recovery begins at a discreet detox facility tucked into an office building on Central Park Drive opposite City Market.
There, participants are medically evaluated, their organ functions are tested and a general practitioner gauges their readiness to begin rehab.
“This is where we begin taking people out of active addiction,” said Austin Eubanks, chief operating officer for The Foundry.
While at detox, participants are allowed to watch television, sleep as much as they like and try to relax, but once at the residential facility, 14 hours of each day is structured time.
Borden emphasizes that The Foundry is not a luxury program with massages and spa time, though participants are exposed to a variety of activities to promote whole body wellness.
In addition to spending time in group and individual therapy sessions, residents are expected to remain active, whether it be in the gym, at yoga class or on walks around the property.
Chef Eric Powers prepares gourmet, often farm-to-table, meals each day, but participants are also taken on shopping trips and given practical cooking classes to build skills that will be useful in the future.
“They’re really understanding the importance of eating healthy,” Borden said.
Health and wellness director Sarah Coleman organizes activities that will help participants learn new tools while also reminding them what it’s like to have fun while sober.
“A lot of them haven’t had a good time sober in a long time,” Coleman said. “We want them to connect with something, maybe what they were passionate about in the past, or maybe we expose them to something brand new.”
Activities have included hot air balloon rides, dancing, rock climbing and bingo, or simpler outings like trips to the library.
“Wellness can really run the gamut of anything I deem well,” Coleman said. “It’s an active program.”
Coleman also organizes regular volunteer opportunities for participants to help them integrate with the community. On Thursday, Foundry participants volunteered at Steamboat’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner.
“Steamboat’s a playground, so there’s no end for what is available to us,” she said.
Coleman said that looking back on her outings with participants around the community, she’s been able to watch the stereotypes people have about addiction change.
“You have a stereotype of what you think an addict will look like. But these are normal people who just want to be healthy and have control in their life,” Coleman said. “They aren’t bad people.”
Building a reputation as a credible rehab facility competing on a national level is tough, but Borden and Eubanks have watched as interest from prospective residents has picked up over the last several months.
Since March, the number of calls inquiring about admissions has grown from 50 per month to about 115 per month, or about four to six calls per weekday.
While not all calls result in a new resident at The Foundry, the program, which has capacity for 12 people, has averaged about 10 participants at a time over the last four months.
While Borden is pleased with the success of The Foundry during its first year, he already has plans to grow the scope of services offered by the business.
In 2017, The Foundry plans to launch a transitional living program for people to apply what they’ve learned in residential treatment in a real-world setting.
Borden said he is still working out the details of the new residence, but it would be a sober living residence that would promote socialization as people adapt to their new freedom. They’d follow designated wake-up times and curfews and engage in education, employment, fitness and other activities.
“It’s really easy to stay sober in rehab,” said Eubanks, who explained that once out of the residential program, participants are faced with more freedom that could compromise their ability to stay sober. “You’re constantly faced with choices.”
The residents in transitional living would also participate in The Foundry’s 12-week outpatient treatment program, which involves nine hours of weekly group therapy, one hour a week each of individual and family therapy and monitored sobriety.
Borden and Eubanks said they’ve been inspired by the impact that Carbondale’s Jaywalker Lodge, a residential program established in 2005, has had on the community’s energy toward supporting recovery.
“There is now a decade’s worth of Jaywalker alumni in Carbondale who are shining examples of the blessings that recovery brings,” Eubanks said. “These people change communities, and we’re hopeful that in time, our alumni presence in Steamboat Springs will begin to do the same thing.”
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The Routt County Democratic Party and the area’s democratic candidates are used to spending annual fundraisers inside the Steamboat Springs Community Center for a lively night of speeches, applause and socializing.