Breaking Down Barriers: Diversion program achieves success by accepting setbacks

Breaking Down Barriers: Diversion program achieves success by accepting setbacks

From the Las Vegas Optic

ALAMOSA, Colo. — Addictions are complex and as unique as the people who struggle with them. The effects of addiction are often persistent and recurring, causing those in treatment to experience setbacks as they work toward recovery.

For participants in Alamosa’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, the road to treatment and recovery often begins when criminal charges are filed, but under the LEAD program, those seeking treatment will have their criminal charges diverted, and eventually dropped, while they get help with their addiction. And while some diversion programs require sobriety at the beginning of the program — and can even drop people from the program if they fail just one drug test — the LEAD program doesn’t have those tight constraints, according to City Manager Heather Brooks.

“They’re always in the program. They may move away or they may turn their life around and never need to be involved with law enforcement again, but we also know it’s not a straight line,” she said. “A lot of times, someone can be on the right path and then a family member dies and it sends them right back to other behaviors, and they have to rebuild again.”

If someone in the program relapses, social workers will work with them to get sober again, and continue to work toward recovery. Program participants aren’t required to be sober to begin the program either. The idea is that when someone is ready to accept help, social workers don’t want any barriers in their way.

Clarissa Woodworth, a social worker with the Center for Restorative Programs, said it’s important for program participants to know they will always have support from their LEAD caseworkers, especially during setbacks. By providing them a safe environment without judgment, they’re able to better handle setbacks and continue to work toward recovery.

“One of the nice philosophies of this program is you don’t fail,” Woodworth said. “You don’t relapse and then you’re out.”