National Addiction Recovery Group Partnering with Aspen Mine Center

Face It TOGETHER To Help Address Drug and Alcohol Problems in Teller County

Rick Langenberg

For Erik Olson, a Florissant resident and national nonprofit group leader, clearing the pathway towards addiction recovery is more than a job; it has become a mission.

Especially for an area prone to encountering serious alcohol, drug and opioid inflictions, a scenario that will only get worse with the population boom expected to occur in Teller County over the next decade. Substance abuse issues have commanded the attention of law enforcement officials, civic leaders and Build a Generation groups for years, with plenty of theories but often a lack of tangible, realistic solutions.

But help could be on the way due to our region’s growing ties with a national addiction, wellness nonprofit group that stresses peer coaching and a more personal, well -rounded, holistic approach towards recovery.

“This has been a dream of mine since 2021,” said Olson, in a recent interview with TMJ News in describing one of his key local goals as the Director of Colorado Strategy for Face It TOGETHER, a major addiction wellness nonprofit organization, with an expanded focus in Colorado.

“I always wanted to help my community,” added Olson, who has lived in the Florissant area for several years and admits a definite fondness for the Teller lifestyle.  “This is a dream come true for me.”

Plus, the Face It TOGETHER leader knows first-hand the challenges many of his clients’ face. Now in recovery from his 20-plus-years of alcohol and marijuana addiction, Erik tried a variety of ways to deal with these issues prior to jumping on board with the national nonprofit. Olson, who worked in a high-profile corporate environment, selling medical devices, makes no pretensions that he somewhat succumbed to the “work hard, play hard,” and yes, “drink and party hard” company ethos.

Finally, he conceded that “enough is enough,” and sought to make lifestyle changes for the betterment of himself and his family and has remained substance and drink-free for several years.

More importantly, the Florissant resident came to appreciate the techniques used by Face It TOGETHER, citing the organization’s peer coaching style as extremely unique and one of a kind. “We have had many success stories,” said Olson.  Peer coaches for the group often use techniques that fall between the 12-step support effort and therapy.

Unlike many alcohol and drug addiction recovery groups, Face It TOGETHER doesn’t require complete sobriety for clients.  “We follow the harm reduction model.  Our clients lead their own recovery,” said Olson.

As noted in their website, the process is “completely member-led; someone may come to us and want to only cut back drinking or stopping one substance but continue using another. We’re here to do what’s best for that individual…Rather than an all or nothing mindset, we encourage our loved ones to celebrate small wins, including a reduction in use. These conversations often help loved ones stay positive and feel encouraged by the progress being made.”

Expanding into Teller County

The nonprofit group, which serves clients in 48 states and several countries, is now expanding its services in Teller County. The group, founded in South Dakota in 2009, has formed a partnership with the Aspen Mine Center in Cripple Creek. “We are very excited about what we are going to be doing up at the Aspen Mine,” said Olson.

Initially, they are planning on doing free, in-person peer coaching and support one day a week (on Thursdays) at the Aspen Mine Center, with the possibility of more virtual sessions and much more visibility in the community.  All sessions are completely confidential. “We have been welcomed with open arms by Lisa Noble (the director of client services for the Aspen Mine),” said Olson. He contends that their group and the Aspen Mine see this as a good fit for serving southern Teller.

Not an Easy Task

Olson and the Face It TOGETHER team say the realize the challenges they face in Teller County.

The group leader cites a big hurdle for many individuals in dealing with their substance and alcohol abuse struggles.

“People up here don’t like to ask for help,” said Olson. He contends that a big perception still persists about getting help for these issues that often impact an entire family. “That is one of the biggest problems we are going to face,” he admitted.

In fact, part of the Face It TOGETHER approach deals with working with spouses and family members of their clients. “A lot of times, the spouse doesn’t know what to do,” said Olson, in regard to their husband or wife having addiction problems.

As far as big alarm bells in the constantly growing addiction arena, Olson cites alcohol, methamphetamines and opioids as the top areas of concern. However, the Face It TOGETHER strategist admits that is just touching the surface.

And with the growth of the casino and hospitality industry in Cripple Creek, the nonprofit group leader believes their focus will definitely expand.

Face It TOGETHER is able to do many programs through grants and a variety of funding sources. And due to the group’s success in obtaining grants, all Colorado residents are currently eligible for free services with Face It TOGETHER.

As another key goal, the group wants to work with military veterans, who often refrain from asking for help. Plus, many former military personnel suffer from addiction issues, a reality that has drawn more attention in recent years.

In addition, Olson mentions the LGBT community as another area of focus due to the isolation these individuals often face from being targeted.

Face it TOGETHER has taken a stronger presence in Colorado and has an office in Colorado Springs. They have involvement in South Dakota, Colorado, Arizona and Florida. But their main focus is with clients in Colorado and South Dakota

The group was started by Kevin Kirby and Charlie Day in 2009 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Kirby was an extremely successful businessman, but he struggled with severe alcohol addiction. And after unsuccessfully dealing with these issues, he hosted a variety of town halls, representing all segments of the community, running the gamut from law officers and civic leaders to local residents and business folks. The goal of the town halls was to “come up with a solution to the needs that many in the community collectively identified.”

As noted in the group’s website, “Face It TOGETHER was the result of those community meetings. Since then, we’ve coached thousands of people.”

In their mission statement, Face It TOGETHER outlines its goal “to share healing and addiction wellness through genuine connection, data and community-informed solutions.”

As one of their main techniques, Olson said they try to get their clients (whom they refer to as members) to set goals for themselves during the recovery process. “That is really important. We want them to drive the process. This is their recovery,” said the Face It TOGETHER leader.

And as a former person struggling with addiction, Olson rates the social aspects of the recovery process as probably the toughest. “A lot of people think they can’t go to any function without having a drink or using a substance. We often try to get our clients to develop new hobbies and connect more with the community.”

For more information about Face It TOGETHER, visit their website at