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Denver clinic offers hope to homeless drug addicts

Posted at 11:10 AM, Jun 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-27 13:10:24-04

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    Denver, CO (KMGH ) — They’re huddled in front of our state capitol and camp along our river banks, and the growth of the metro’s homeless population doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Some of us turn a blind eye. Others may even be desensitized to these Coloradans and the issues they deal with daily and the reality is — more than half of these people are struggling with drug addictions. But a home health care service in Denver has come up with a way to help these people get back into society.

“I’ve been talking opiates since I was about 18,” said a woman who asked us to refer to her as “Ashley.”

The 34-year-old woman told Denver7 she’s afraid to get a job because she thinks her drug addiction would hinder her during the application process.

“Ultimately, I’m homeless because I’m a drug addict,” said Ashley.

She’s hoping the Stout Street Health Center may be the push she needs to get her life back on track.

“I’m hoping to be a better wife and be a better mother. Just a better person all around and get off the streets, because I don’t want this life anymore,” she said.

The walk-in clinic is run by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

Dr. Rolli Oden says the program has expanded recently. In the past month they’ve treated 149 patients like Ashley.

“Success is really high,” said Oden.

The clinic is prescribing the drug Soboxone — a less intense alternative to Methadone.

“It takes away the cravings and doesn’t get you high,” Oden said.

He says in the past few months, the center has added staff and changed policies. He says if an addict shows up one day and doesn’t get treatment, he or she may never come back. Because of that, every patient at the Stout Street Health Center is guaranteed to be treated that day.

And the center promises to turn a three-week process into a three-hour treatment program. Especially when the treatment involves medication.

“The urgency for us is, if that person that day wants to try to change their life, we want to be there to support that, ” said Oden.

Ashley has been on Soboxone for eight months and has been opioid free ever since.

“It’s great. It really helps with the cravings,” she said.

There are roughly 8,000 homeless people in the Denver metro area. Of those, 80% are considered addicts.

The goal of the Stout Street clinic is to let those people know their doors are always open. And now, boosted by a compassionate helping hand, Ashley says the Stout Street Health Center has given her something she hasn’t felt for years: hope.

“If you’re an addict, they’re pretty much here to help, ” she said.

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