Albuquerque Journal

New alcohol, drug detox center opens in Gallup

Facility has a capacity of 45 people for short-term treatment

- Copyright © 2021 Albuquerqu­e Journal BY RICK NATHANSON JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

A newly-opened detox center in Gallup is filling a gap in social services by offering voluntary social and medically monitored detoxifica­tion for alcohol and drug abuse.

The Four Corners Detox Recovery Center has a 45-person capacity and is treating people who stay on average for five days. A longer term residentia­l treatment program is expected to be added within three to six months, said Sylvia Barela, chief executive officer of parent nonprofit company Santa Fe Recovery.

“Gallup continues to have the highest alcohol-related death rate per capita of any community in the state and nation,” she said. In general, New Mexico has one of the highest rates of substance abuse, she added.

In addition, Gallup and the surroundin­g area in McKinley County have “been hit particular­ly hard by COVID, and that has complicate­d the array of addiction treatment services,” Barela said.

The Four Corners Detox Recovery Center is operating out of the renovated former juvenile detention center, which closed a couple of years ago because of budget issues, and had since been used for storage, said Children, Youth and Families Department spokesman Charlie Moore-Pabst.

McKinley County now sends pre-adjudicate­d juveniles from the Northwest part of the state to the San Juan County Juvenile Services Center, he said.

An existing detox program in Gallup, the Na’ Nizhoozhi Center Inc., or NCI, provides involuntar­y social detox, said executive director Kevin Foley. That center had to briefly close last April when staff was forced to self quarantine because of COVID. It is now open, but its capacity has been cut from 150 beds pre-COVID to its current occupancy of 68 beds, he said.

In seeking to address the lack of detox services in the Gallup area, the state turned to Santa Fe Recovery, “which has been pretty successful with substance abuse treatments in Santa Fe and the northern part of the state,” said MoorePabst. “They were willing to come in and set up a permanent detox center, and will eventually have a long-term residentia­l treatment facility in the community.”

From CYFD’s perspectiv­e, this is an important option for parents with addiction issues who want to get treatment and still remain close to their home and children. “This opens a whole new avenue for them to get that treatment and remain in contact with their families,” he said.

“This is a great example of meeting the needs of the community under the COVID-19 crisis while at the same time building long-term options to serve the community for decades to come,” said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock, who is also the director of New Mexico Emergency Operations Center ESF6 Shelter Operations. ESF6 is the umbrella agency that led the collaborat­ion that brought Santa Fe Recovery to the Gallup area to establish and run the new detox center. Also part of that collaborat­ion was the state Human Services Department, the City of Gallup and McKinley County.

As of this week, more than 70 patients have received services at the Four Corners Detox Recovery Center. Barela said she expects the facility to treat 1,500 to 2,000 people a year, though the number of beds in total cannot be increased after the residentia­l treatment component is added.

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