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Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo


Pueblo, COColorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo Review

Originally known as the Colorado State Insane Asylum when it opened in 1879, the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo is located on 300-acres of landscaped greenery and is the largest psychiatric hospital in Colorado. Their Circle Program provides inpatient treatment for adults with addiction issues and co-occurring disorders. The facility operates under the Colorado Department of Human Services. They will treat clients in need of services, regardless of their ability to pay.

Accommodations and Food

At Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, Circle Program residents are housed within the Cognitive Behavioral Program unit, which has a 116- bed capacity. The Circle program has a 24-bed capacity, divided evenly between men and women. While the building is co-ed, clients are housed in four wings, with six residents per gender-specific pod. Clients have their own private, dorm-style rooms, which include lockers.

All the food is prepared on the premises, including fresh bread and desserts. Residents are served in the cafeteria, and are provided three hot meals a day. Those with special dietary needs, including kosher menus, are accommodated. The facility allows clients to order take-out food, as well as having family bring snacks. Smokers are out of luck here, since the entire facility incorporates a strict tobacco-free policy.

Treatment and Staff

Circle Program’s addiction treatment approach for adults uses evidence-based methods, specifically CBT and DBT, in conjunction with the 12 steps. Upon intake, residents receive comprehensive psychiatric and medical evaluations, followed by individualized treatment plans. Besides utilizing evidence-based practices, the Circle Program incorporates the Cue Exposure Treatment, a modality where residents are subjected to potential triggers inside the hospital, preparing them for societal re-entry.

Detox is provided on-site and—upon approval by the program’s medical director—medication-assisted protocols including methadone for opiate withdrawal are provided. Clients  meet with their doctors on a regular basis for medication management during treatment, which typically lasts 90 days. During their stay, clients can also receive spiritual, dietary and nutritional assessments.

Residents are in treatment from 8 am to 5 pm, Mondays through Fridays. The schedule includes a combination of group therapy, educational groups and individual sessions as well as attendance at daily on-site 12-step meetings. Group topics include parenting, medication information, anger management, behavioral change, spirituality, relapse prevention, stress management, the disease of addiction, personality styles, mental illness and symptoms management. Criminal justice clients participate in specialized CBT-based groups that teach them how to recognize and combat criminal thinking and employ self-improvement techniques.

The staff includes a board certified addiction psychiatrist, a Master’s-level Circle Program team leader, LCSWs, licensed psychiatric techs, a recreational therapist, psychiatric interns, a psychologist and three CADC’s. Chaplains on the premises provide spiritual counseling for those seeking faith-based support.


Since the hospital is a tobacco-free facility, smoking cessation classes are provided. Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture are available for the reduction of the clients’ cravings. In addition to traditional methods, recreational therapy, art therapy and music therapy are offered as part of the weekly routine. Recreational therapy includes swimming at the hospital’s pool, volleyball, gardening and walking.

Besides the cognitive behavioral health program, the hospital has a 104-bed admissions program for psychiatric patients, a 72-bed restoration program for those with social anxiety disorders and a 159-bed psychosocial program for those with severe psychiatric disorders including acute schizophrenia and other Axis I disorders.

The hospital’s museum, also in Pueblo, contains artifacts such the original asylum’s original nineteenth century restraint chair, straitjacket and early medical equipment used to treat mental health clients.

In Summary

While the Circle Program offers affordable, comprehensive treatment for those suffering from chemical dependency and co-occurring disorders, the waiting list is long—between three and four months for females and between five and six months for males. Although there has been negative press against the hospital, including a special ABC News TV report in 2010, the Circle Program at Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo was not included in the report.

Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo Location

Circle Program
1600 West W 24th St,
Pueblo, CO 81003

Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo Circle Program Cost

Sliding scale, 30 days. Reach Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo’s Circle Program by phone at (719) 546-4797 or by email at [email protected]. Find Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo on Facebook and Google+

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