Resorts lack place to recover |

Resorts lack place to recover

Chad Abraham

ASPEN – In the life-and-death struggle of substance abuse, sometimes simply a voice can make all the difference.A voice of experience, empathy, respect. Perhaps just as important, a person battling addiction needs a place to hear those voices and meet the people who have, in the words of one addiction expert, “been there.”Such a place could have been the difference in the life of Aspenite Doug Valley, said his sister, Mia Valley. He died 212 years ago from cirrhosis of the liver after many years of alcoholism. He was only 43.Liver cirrhosis resulting from alcohol abuse is one of the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S., said Dr. Howard J. Worman, a liver expert at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.Mia Valley, who owns an Aspen art gallery, said the city needs a place where people who are sober can help the newly recovering. “There is not a clubhouse here – like there is in almost every community – and I think that could have helped him,” Valley said.A meeting place is the goal of Brad Osborn, director of The Right Door and a certified addiction counselor. The nonprofit organization in Aspen works to bring addicts and alcoholics together with people who have stopped using and drinking.”We’re trying to locate a sober house, a place where people can connect,” Osborn said.Drunks and drug users often end up sleeping it off in one of the Pitkin County Jail’s two holding cells, which can cause other problems. This is where The Right Door comes in. The group has three paid staff members, including Osborn, who are on call 24 hours a day, and about two dozen volunteers.The staff and volunteers use an old sheriff’s sport utility vehicle to take intoxicated people to Glenwood Springs. And, if the parties are interested when they sober up, someone from The Right Door will be there to pick them up and return them to the upper valley.Osborn opened The Right Door with $21,600 that was awarded to him from a fund formerly used for the Tipsy Taxi service, which is now self-funded. He has since received grants from the city, the county and the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation.Also providing a huge boost was Valley and her gallery, Valley Fine Art. Last December her gallery hosted a fund-raiser that generated nearly $160,000 for The Right Door.Mia and her brother were born and raised in Aspen. She said living in a resort as a rule is tougher on people grappling with substance abuse.”People are here to have a good time. It’s kind of more of a fantasy world as opposed to the real world,” Valley said. “Having said all that, addiction is a huge problem in all communities.”Vail, Colorado

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