After Losing Arapahoe House, Thornton Picks Up Substance Abuse Treatment Center

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Plagued by financial problems and dwindling government assistance, the state's largest drug-and-alcohol abuse treatment center announced in December that it would close after more than forty years. Arapahoe House employees and 5,000 patients around the state were left to fend for themselves

But residents of Thornton seeking treatment won't have to look much longer — at least, not all of them. Community Reach Center, a behavioral health provider with seven outpatient offices and 100 community outposts around the state, has purchased the former Arapahoe House facility in Thornton, at 8801 Lipan Street.

The new Margaret Carpenter Center — named after a longtime Thornton mayor and Community Reach Center boardmember — will open in the next few weeks and initially offer about twenty in-patient, or residential, beds for substance-abuse treatment, according to center CEO Rick Doucet. "Right now that facility has the potential of expanding if the need is there," he says.

The center had already taken control of Arapahoe House's Commerce City detox center last March, and has picked up a handful of Arapahoe House employees.

Thornton Mayor Heidi Williams praises Community Reach Center's involvement in the city. Last year, Thornton hired an additional fifty police officers to battle rising crime linked to the opioid epidemic, which has been especially brutal in Adams County. "It has stretched our resources, especially in the police department," Williams says.

Williams acknowledges that it will take more than nonprofits to battle the opioid epidemic, which claimed the lives of 269 Coloradans in 2016. "I'm thrilled that Community Reach is purchasing the building and providing services, but ultimately there's got to be some better solutions at the state and federal level for these issues," she says. "Nonprofits and local governments can't address this issue all by themselves."

The General Assembly is tackling the crisis through several bills. Some focus on prescribing, limiting the number of pills a health-care provider can give to patients. Another would award grants to parts of the state experiencing particularly high levels of opioid addiction to fund treatment services.

About 90 percent of Arapahoe House patients were low-income, a population the Community Reach Center can accommodate but cannot rely on to pay the bills. "Somebody with private insurance has a better opportunity for services, especially for substance abuse," Doucet says.

The Thornton branch of the center will take advantage of state contracts that help pay for uninsured patients. "The reason we're able to provide services is we try to maximize revenue streams," Doucet says. "You'll never survive otherwise."