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Step And Carter’s Story

DENVER — Dealing with addiction is not easy. The road to get better can be rocky but at Step Denver, they teach that recovery is about progress, not perfection.

Paul Scudo, executive director at Step Denver, said they want to effect a behavioral change in the men at the program.

“Step Denver is a men’s residential addiction recovery program that gives men with nowhere else to turn the opportunity to overcome addiction though sobriety, work, accountability and community,” said Scudo.

For 35 years, the facility has helped men battling addiction by offering a bed and a second chance. Many of the people working at Step Denver have taken similar steps in their own lives.

“I myself am in recovery from the disease of addiction and I lived homeless on the streets of Denver for two years,” said Scudo. “Folks reached out to me and offered me help and I was able to rebuild my life and it is now my passion to help others.”

Scudo knows that sometimes the decision to get better comes at a person’s lowest point.

“You don’t need to have anything. Most guys are coming in with a backpack. All we require is motivation and willingness” said Scudo.

Carter Smith came into the program in April of 2018. He spent seven months at the main facility and another six months at Oxford House, a sober living transitional home.

Though time has passed, he still remembers the events that brought him into the program and recovery.

“I lost my job. I had to be out of my apartment in a few days,” said Smith. “The consequences of my addiction had caught up with me.”

Smith said he drained the resource well dry, including from his family.

“Basically I had one night between being in Step Denver and being out of my apartment,” said Smith. “My trust in my family was so broken that I didn’t even have the option of staying with them for one night. I will always remember my father driving me to the Denver Rescue Mission and I stayed there for the night.”

Carter got a job, worked a program, and made connections. For him, recovery is being worth that second shot. Now he is working to help others take their second shot too.

“I have the blessing of getting to be the admissions coordinator, meaning I get to sit down with everyday who are at their rock bottom,” said Smith.

Carter has also been able to mend broken relationships.

“The main thing I remember with the relationship with my parents is to get to stay in the house again,” said Smith. “I still have the key that they gave me on my bedside table to remind me of the key that I earned back.”

Right now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the main facility at Larimer and 20th streets is operating at 50% capacity.

Step Denver also follows up with its residents for a year once they complete the program, and said 80 percent report being sober and employed.

Although Step Denver is a men’s program there are resources for women, like the Empowerment Program, Sobriety House, and Delores Project.