Category: Blog

Alcohol and Addiction Support Groups

SummitStone group supports those whose loved ones abuse alcohol or other drugs

It may sound strange, but Susan* is glad her daughter is in jail. That way at least she knows that Amber’s* not using drugs or alcohol.

Around the age of 14, Amber starting smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. Not much later, she landed in juvenile drug court for possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Despite jail time, she turned to heroin, and at age 19, Amber came to her parents begging for their help. After a 90-day stint in a rehabilitation facility, Amber picked up and left for New York, only to beg for help again a few months later. Susan and her husband crossed the country, brought Amber back to Colorado and checked her into another facility, this time for four months.

“Ten days after she got out, she was using heroin again,” Susan said. “She’s 23 now and I thank god she’s in jail, because there, I know she is safe.”

Today Susan co-facilitates a group that meets every Tuesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at SummitStone’s Bristlecone clinic. It is officially called the “Support Group for Loved Ones of those who Abuse Alcohol or Other Drugs.” It is free to attend, open to anyone over 18, and there is no ongoing commitment to attend every week.

“For an hour and a half, I don’t feel alone,” she said. “The goal is not to talk about ‘that person’ but what we can do to help ourselves and encourage each other.”

The group discussion often turns to the concept of detachment and letting go of the co-dependency group members often suffer from wanting to save their loved ones. “You have to detach yourself from that person, but detach with love,” Susan said. “You always hope that the last time would be it, but seeing hope dashed time and time again, I had to realize that it’s out of my control. So, we focus on self-care too, because we can’t control it and we can’t fix them.”

The Open Support Group is co-facilitated by a SummitStone staff and meets every Tuesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at 114 Bristlecone Drive in Fort Collins. For questions or more information, contact SummitStone at (970) 494-4379.

*Names have been changed to protect their privacy.

More information on our Addiction Services >>

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May is Mental Health Month - What is behavioral health

Mental health issues affect everyone in Larimer County

Not too long ago I was at a networking event where the obvious question, “What do you do?” came up. I responded that I work at a behavioral health agency in Larimer County. The blank stare I received gave me pause. Did she not know what behavioral health is, or was she unsure how to respond because stigma can stifle conversations about my line of work?

So I asked, “Are you familiar with behavioral health?”

She admitted she had heard of it, but really didn’t know what it was all about. Since then, I have been certain to follow my introduction with, “We provide mental health and addiction treatment services across the county.”

People understand that. They might then share that their brother is struggling with alcohol, or that their niece has obsessive-compulsive tendencies and depression, or that their son’s friend survived a heroin overdose. And while these stories are heartbreaking and all too common, my parting message is always this: people can and do recover.

That’s why it’s so important to celebrate May as Mental Health Awareness Month. At my agency, SummitStone Health Partners, we see people take that first step on their road to recovery every day, and every day we celebrate our clients’ improvements along the way. It takes courage, commitment and support. Recovery is possible. In fact, it’s what drives me to lead the largest provider of behavioral health services in Larimer County.

Our mission at SummitStone is to provide unsurpassed behavioral health services, and we accomplish this through our work with community partners. We work with schools, jails, libraries, homeless services, housing, the courts, human services and many other organizations to provide the best care and treatment services possible.

This past year, SummitStone celebrated 60 years of providing care to Larimer County. In 2017, we delivered more than 150,000 services including nearly 6,000 clients seen through our 24/7 Crisis Center. Knowing that one in five residents in Larimer County struggle with mental health issues, it’s obvious to see that everyone is affected in some way.

With May as Mental Health Awareness Month, I must point out that while our community has amazing services to help people, we also have critical gaps. Two years ago, a ballot measure to fund those gaps narrowly failed. Since then, a group of dedicated professionals, led by Larimer County, have been working to bring the issue to the people once again. A forthcoming proposal includes a facility to house many critical services not yet offered here, and to bring other related services under the same roof.

Behavioral health is a quality of life issue that should no longer be ignored. We deserve better. And we can do better. We need people to break down stigma, share their stories and start the discussion where there is none. When you reflect how mental health and addiction issues have impacted your life and the lives of your loved ones, please consider how we can improve the health of our entire community, including those experiencing behavioral health issues.

Because people can and do recover.

Michael Allen is CEO of SummitStone Health Partners in Fort Collins.

Read the article published in The Coloradoan

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Tips for Successful Recovery

Tips for Success in Recovery

It takes a great deal of courage to put aside any reservations you have and seek treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction. Once you’ve made that wise decision, you want to be sure you get all you can out of the process. That’s why we tell people at our Fort Collins treatment center that it’s important to have a plan for success even before you enter recovery.

Proven Strategies for Beating Addiction

Here are some actions and attitudes that will help ensure that you meet your recovery objectives:

  • Embrace the idea of completely changing your life.Refraining from using drugs or alcohol is only part of what recovery is about. It also involves making changes in your life that will help you stay clean and sober. This means developing new, healthy habits and fresh perspectives.
  • Be totally honest with yourself and others. People struggling with addiction often feel guilt and shame about what has become of their life. Consequently, withholding the truth or even lying are common behaviors. In order to be successful in recovery, you need to open up and be honest with your counselor, your loved ones and yourself.
  • Identify and be mindful of your triggers. Every person who is battling (or has battled) addiction has certain things that can trigger the urge to use drugs or alcohol. It can be a sight, sound, smell, location or any kind of sensory input. It’s critical that you know what your triggers are, how best to avoid them, and what to do if you encounter them.
  • Be patient and kind with yourself. It’s natural to be angry with or disappointed in yourself. But constantly stirring up those feelings isn’t helpful as you try to recover from your addiction. Surely you hope and expect that your loved ones, your counselor and others will have compassion for you. Likewise, you need to be forgiving and understanding of yourself.
  • Don’t cut corners. Recovering from an addiction is hard work. But, it’s very much worth the effort. Be ready to put in the effort required to meet your goals, even when you are feeling the urge to give up.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance. It’s important to remember that there are a wide range of resources available to you and that you should use them. This may include a counselor at our Fort Collins treatment center, a support group, family and friends, a spiritual community, etc. Be sure to reach out whenever you need help.

Helping You Get on the Path to Health and Happiness

No matter how difficult your situation has become, success in recovery is achievable. It simply requires a consistent, focused effort and following the advice of people and organizations who know what works. To learn about the programs at our Fort Collins treatment center, call 970-494-4200. If you or a loved one needs help with an immediate mental or emotional crisis, you can reach our Access Center at that same phone number 24/7. In the case of a life-threatening emergency, please call 911.

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DUI Services

You got a DUI. Now what?

DUI Level II Education and Therapy

You were cited for drinking and driving. Now you have to face the facts and the law. As anyone who has gone through it can tell you, a DUI conviction is a long and expensive process, but SummitStone Health Partners is here to help. We are an affordable, reliable, licensed resource for DUI Services and we offer walk-in, same-day access so you don’t have to wait to get started.

After you get out of jail, your probation officer will assign you a track of treatment based on your Blood Alcohol Level (BAC), prior convictions and possibly any other clinical indications. You will most likely be court-ordered to enter DUI Education and Therapy. You may also be assigned to Alternative Sentencing, where you don’t have to stay in jail, but you do have to report to the jail for community service work, usually two days a week.

DUI Level II Education consists of 24 hours of DUI classes over 12 weeks. It is usually in a group setting with about 12 people. If Therapy is assigned, it can range in length from five to 10 months depending on the treatment level you are assigned by your probation officer. Therapy usually begins after the Education program is completed. Then you will be required to attend two-hours of treatment a week for a minimum of 42 hours over five months all the way up to 86 hours over 10 months. SummitStone counselors can also identify underlying issues that contributed to your legal situation and work to develop a treatment plan with you.

If you find yourself in the position of needing to take court-ordered DUI Education Level II and Therapy, call SummitStone at (970) 494-4200 or walk-in to our Bristlecone or Wilson offices Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Tuesdays-Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for same-day access. Education classes cost $25 each, but the initial assessment and therapy sessions are free for clients on Medicaid.

For more information on our services, visit

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How does substance abuse affect people differently?

When you search the definition of substance abuse online you’ll often find that it is an overindulgence in, or dependence on, an addictive substance, especially alcohol or drugs. But what does this really mean, and why do some people become addicted to drugs, while others do not?

Substance abuse or addiction, like any disease, varies from person to person on its effects and symptoms. While substance abuse has a wide range of effects, one of the greatest risks is dependence. What was once a casual drink on a Friday night, or an occasional indulgence in your drug of choice, can quickly become an everyday occurrence.

There isn’t one single factor or characteristic that determines if you may become addicted to drugs or alcohol.  Addiction doesn’t discriminate: it doesn’t factor in your economic class, race or geographic location. So what risk factors can play a role, and which of these factors can we control? When looking at addiction there are many variables to consider such as your genetics, the environment around, and the drug itself. Below is a quick chart that details each of these categories listed:

Addiction Risk Factors

Please call us today if you have any questions about our substance abuse and addiction services at (970) 494-4200 or visit our website at

We also offer an Open Support Group for people whose loved one abuses alcohol or other drugs. It is free, and you or your loved one do not have to be enrolled in SummitStone services to attend.  The group meets every Tuesday at our office at 114 Bristlecone Drive in Fort Collins from 5:30-7 p.m. Share experiences, encouragement and resources for substance abuse and addiction in Larimer County. Drop-in or call (970) 494-4379 for more details.

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