VYFS to offer drug and alcohol counseling

Vashon Youth & Family Ser-vices (VYFS), in an effort to fill what some say is a critical need on the Island, will begin offering drug and alcohol counseling to Islanders, including those on limited incomes.

With funds from a new King County tax aimed at providing more mental health services county-wide, the Island-based agency plans to offer both individual and group sessions on a sliding-fee scale beginning Aug. 1, said Sam Collins, the agency’s executive director.

The service will be offered on Fridays for the next couple of months, he said. After that, it could become more frequent.

Few such services are provided on Vashon, particularly for people on limited incomes, Collins said.

“We know there are drug addicts and alcoholics on the Island, and the services aren’t available locally and people don’t often access them off-Island because of the time and distance,” he said.

Part of the issue on Vashon is the lack of anonymity; cars are easily recognizable, and some might be hesitant to use services aimed at people with substance abuse problems, Collins said.

But that won’t be a problem at VYFS, where myriad services are offered and people come and go all day, he said.

VYFS is offering the service through Navos, formerly West Seattle Mental Health. Eventually, he said, the agency hopes to become a licensed mental health treatment center, which could receive people court-ordered to undergo treatment.

Meanwhile, Stephen Bogan, a therapist on Vashon, has just stepped down as the manager of the youth treatment system at the state Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse so that he can provide counseling services on Vashon full-time.

Bogan, who already has a group for teens in recovery and adults concerned about their marijuana use, focuses on substance abuse issues.

The developments, he said, are positive on Vashon, where studies suggest substance abuse is high.

“I think adding more services makes a presence of recovery on the Island,” he said.

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