Drug treatment helped former Steamboat resident get sober

Former longtime Steamboat Springs resident John Trolley poses this week with his two dogs, Atlas, left, a malamute, and Arie, a Great Pyrenees. The love of animals is only part of a bigger picture of the multiple stages of his sobriety.
John Trolley/Courtesy Photo

The path to a sober lifestyle for former longtime Steamboat Springs resident John Trolley required support in many forms, from friends to peer support groups to medically assisted treatment.

Now the former ski racer and restaurant manager, who was arrested in Steamboat for felony drug possession in January 2020, lives in sobriety, aided by the friendship of his two dogs and the animals he cares for. , working and living at a pet station on the front range.

“It’s just a positive experience to be able to work with dogs every day. It’s a lot easier to work with animals than customer service in the restaurant industry,” Trolley said.



Trolley explained five keys to her healing journey and at the top of that list is relationships. This includes a good friend who took care of his two large dogs when Trolley was in the Routt County Jail and Detention Center for 90 days.

“For me, my family and friends were everything in my recovery,” Trolley, 44, said. “Because in my addiction it was just the opposite. I completely isolated myself and didn’t care about anything but my selfish habit, so just getting my family and friends back and rebuilding those relationship with me was probably the most important and meaningful part of my recovery.



Trolley, who first moved to Steamboat when he was 18, credits his sobriety to a multi-pronged approach, including the Narcotics Anonymous support group in Steamboat, grants funding from the nonprofit lucrative West Slope Casa to pay for 30-day hospital treatment on the Front Range, a recovery coach through the Hornbuckle Foundation and drug treatment (MAT) through the Front Range Clinic on Oak Street in Steamboat.

“(MAT) has been a huge tool for me to kick the craving,” Trolley said. “It helped me get back to a somewhat normal life.”

Ken Davis, Physician Assistant at the Front Range Clinic, has helped make MAT more available in Routt County since 2018. The local Front Range Clinic serves some 75 MAT clients annually.

MAT is also available through Northwest Colorado Health in Steamboat and Craig for primary care patients, for clients through Providence Recovery in Craig, and for inpatients at the Foundry Treatment Center in Routt County. Front Range Clinic also offers mobile services in Oak Creek and Hayden.

Davis commended the 14th Judicial District for allowing the use of the MAT through local medical providers for those incarcerated in Routt and Moffat counties.

Although Davis calls MAT a “life-saving intervention” and a “game changer,” he also said that MAT alone isn’t the answer.

“You need a fully integrated program, and you need community supports,” said Davis, who has worked in the field for 20 years. “Treatments can take the form of medication, but also therapy, counseling and peer support. »

Davis said MAT is approved in three forms by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat drug addiction. Treatment drugs bind to the same receptors in the brain as other opiates in order to lessen drug cravings.

The three drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid addiction include buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone, and all three treatments have been shown to be safe and effective in combination with counseling and psychosocial support, according to the FDA.

For people addicted to opioids, using MAT can reduce the risk of death by 50%, Davis said, and the odds of achieving sustained sobriety with the help of MAT can be six in 10 to one in 10. without medical intervention, says Davis.

With the danger of fentanyl increasing in Colorado, the statistics showing that up to 11 attempts are needed for sustained success in recovery can be intense, Davis said.

“Any type of addiction is a chronic, complex, relapsing brain disease, so someone in their first 90 days of recovery has an eight in 10 chance of relapsing,” Davis said. “When you reach fifth grade, it’s a 1 in 10 chance of relapse, and that’s where you stay for the rest of your life.”

Davis pointed out that safe and affordable housing in the Yampa Valley is another key for patients to maintain sobriety, as people exiting treatment may be forced back into risky and unsupportive living environments.

“When they get out, the housing situation puts them in a really tough spot,” Davis said.

The physician assistant said the two main needs in the Yampa Valley include a formal sober living facility, such as a group home with a house manager and peer support, and sufficient funding. to help residents access higher level hospital treatment when needed.

John Trolley tries a group photo with his dogs Atlas (left) and Arie. “I’m so grateful that I didn’t have to give them up through all of this,” Trolley said of her recovery journey.
John Trolley/Courtesy Photo

“We have a lot of the infrastructure in place in northwest Colorado for this to be successful, but funding and housing will always be issues,” Davis said.

More than two years after his arrest, and many milestones later, Trolley is making a success of his journey, adding, “Something that has always stuck with me is that as long as you are recovering, you will never have to be alone.”

About Bradley J. Bridges

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