Peer I Philosophy
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ABOUT PEER I
Located on Denver’s Fort Logan campus and part of the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Addiction Research & Treatment Services (ARTS), Peer I is a long-term residential treatment program designed for men struggling with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental and behavioral health disorders. Clients are typically referred by the criminal justice system with a history of chronic addiction and crime.
Of Colorado’s 399 substance abuse treatment facilities in 2016, more than 56 percent offered specialized services for clients involved with the legal system, while Peer I was one of only 42 (10.5 percent) providing long-term care. ARTS operates a similar program for women called The Haven, as well as several outpatient clinics.
TREATMENT & ASSESSMENT
Peer I functions as a therapeutic community (TC) over a one- to two-year period for each client. The TC emphasizes responsibility in phases, with mutual rewards and consequences to encourage peers’ investment in each other’s recovery.
Each phase runs between one and six months, beginning with assessment, planning, and motivational counseling. Next, residents focus on education, problem-solving skills, vocational coaching, pro-social activities, and establishing support systems beyond the rehab center. A third phase continues in those areas and prepares clients for employment, followed by three to five months of transitional care. During this stage, clients learn more life skills, such as financial management, while participating in monitored jobs and increased outside interaction.
Throughout the program, Peer I residents have access to medication-assisted treatment (in conjunction with individual and group counseling), along with psychiatric and medical care, vision and dental services, and GED preparation. They participate in trust-building exercises and practice meditation. Men are expected to participate in 12-step groups and drug and alcohol testing. As they progress into more open stages, residents may go on regular outings such as camping, hiking, biking, and skiing, as well as volunteer opportunities.
Aftercare is provided (and in some cases, mandated) for a minimum of one year, during which former residents participate in an alumni group and receive housing assistance.
ARTS Peer I is part of the teaching program of the University of Colorado medical school’s department of psychiatry. Most program counselors are licensed social workers.
ACCOMMODATIONS & AMENITIES
The Fort Logan campus in Denver hosts three Peer I facilities housing 125 men. Photos from a 2015 Reuters feature story depict an older, Victorian-style building with offices and living spaces. Comfortably furnished group rooms include a large TV and various volunteers and services are featured, including free tattoo removal.
Few other details regarding living arrangements or related offerings are provided by the facility. However, the three individuals polled to date by Rehabs.com consistently granted moderate to favorable ratings for Peer I aspects such as meals and nutrition (all four out of five stars), exercise and leisure activities, and facility cleanliness (which also included one rating of just one star).
WHAT ALUMNI SAY
The two Peer I alumni polled by Rehabs.com at the time of this writing agreed that the facility’s treatment was effective, with ratings of four and five out of five stars. The alum polled more extensively offered low one- and two-star ratings for the program’s counseling options, dual diagnosis treatment, and family participation. The reviewer identified Peer I’s preparation for re-entry as a strength, but noted a weakness in compassion.
On Facebook, six individuals provided feedback for Peer I and The Haven with an average rating of 4.3 out of five stars. The one positive written comment acknowledged that the program was challenging, but, the alum wrote: “I know who i am and what i am capable of doing because they gave me a chance.” The one critical reviewer cited staff as a problem.
WHAT FRIENDS & FAMILY SAY
The two loved ones provided polled by Rehabs.com to date agreed with alumni that the program’s treatment was effective. They disagreed with the one alum’s disappointment with family participation, rating this aspect of treatment with three and five stars. One identified counseling as a strength but described the program as not strict enough, while the other reviewer agreed with most alumni comments that it was “a really tough program.” The staff’s level of training and experience received four-star ratings from both.
According to the Peer I website, the cost of many services is covered by public funding or grants. Insurance is accepted and a sliding fee scale is used.
Published on March 2018
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