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Boulder opens first-of-its-kind home for people struggling with addiction

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Posted at 6:29 PM, May 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-08 20:29:57-04

BOULDER, Colo. — Four months have passed since a first-of-its-kind home in Boulder County opened its doors to people struggling with addiction.

Project Recovery prides itself on serving people of a lower socio-economic status.

Dustin Chavez, 39, said his addiction was almost predetermined by the life he was born into.

"I started struggling at a young age,” he said. "My family was heavily involved with drugs and the dealing of drugs and so I fell into that lifestyle and started dealing myself at age 13."

Chavez started using cocaine before turning to meth, heroin and fentanyl. Then, it was pain medication after a back injury. He was in and out of jail and heading down a dangerous, potentially deadly path, but then along came Tribe Recovery Homes, a nonprofit in Denver and Boulder that takes a trauma-informed approach to addiction recovery. It was a savior of sorts for Chavez, who participated in the program in Denver last year.

“I really like how Tribe takes a holistic approach to the person, not just addiction," Chavez said. “They meet you where you're at and get you to where you need to be and where they feel like is a good place for you to move onto for yourself.”

Tribe recently teamed up with the City and County of Boulder to create Project Recovery.

“What we're offering is residential treatment for men in this lovely home and outpatient clinical services for all community members,” said Clinical Director at Tribe Recovery Services in Boulder MJ Smart.

Boulder's first-of-its-kind Project Recovery home is for people who can't afford a high-end treatment center. It opened in early January and was modeled after Denver’s program. Smart said the home can house up to 11 people for 30 to 60 days. Right now, eight men are staying at the home. They don't work while they live in the home because the recovery sessions are rigorous.

"Monday through Friday, folks participate in group therapy with therapists. They also participate in groups with what we call peer navigators, peer support specialists,” Smart said.

Smart said most of the people they serve are unhoused or coming from the Boulder County Jail.

According to the Boulder County Coroner’s Office most recent annual report, 51 people died in 2022 from using multiple drugs — like fentanyl, meth and over-the-counter drugs — at the same time.

Policy Advisor on Homelessness for the City of Boulder Megan Newton said Project Recovery creates a bridge for people who want to be in recovery.

“We talk about folks who are living outdoors, who are living in shelters and it's really hard to stay sober and stay committed to those spaces and so this house and program provides them that space and meets that need,” Newton said.

Chavez now lives in a sober living house with six other people who were part of Denver’s Tribe Recovery Program. He has gotten his life back and even recently reconnected with his 20-year-old daughter.

"I hadn't seen her in 17 years and I had seen her for the first time four months ago,” he said, adding that he wouldn't have seized that opportunity before his recovery began.

Tribe Recovery said this will likely be the only home of its kind in Boulder County. However, they're in the process of creating what is called step-down properties that will offer services like intensive outpatient treatment and be in a structured sober-living program.

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