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New substance abuse treatment center opens next to high school

Young adults on Vashon have a new place to seek help for substance abuse issues — a youth-oriented treatment program located steps away from Vashon High School.

Operated by Vashon Youth & Family Services, Holistic Approaches to Recovery Treatment is a new alcohol and drug treatment center on Vashon that earned its state license this summer. It’s open at no cost to qualifying teens and young adults and their families thanks to county funding; others can pay on a sliding scale for services, including youth treatment, assessments, support groups and interventions.

“There really is no safe drinking or using for a teenage brain,” said Marianne Rose, director of the new treatment center. “It makes such a difference when you put alcohol and drugs into a brain that’s developing.”

Holistic Approaches to Recovery Treatment, or HART, is the Island’s first state-certified and government-funded substance abuse treatment center. It’s housed at Vashon Youth & Family Services, just west of the high school.

It offers youth groups for those who are using or in recovery, adult and youth substance use assessments, youth and adult interventions and support groups for those affected by others’ use. But HART’s first priority is launching its first youth support group next week, Rose said.

“Right now, we’re going to focus on youth, because that’s Vashon Youth & Family Services’ mission — youth and families,” Rose said.

She has worked in private practice on Vashon for years with clients with addiction and eating disorder issues.

Today, Rose is seeing Island young people abusing drugs more than alcohol, she said.

“Prescriptions, marijuana and heroin — those are the ones that I have seen the most on the Island recently, even more than alcohol,” Rose said.

Because it is essential for teens to get clean to start to live a constructive life, she’s thrilled that HART’s first youth support group begins on Monday, she said.

HART will begin a support group for friends and family affected by loved ones’ substance use the same day.

Drug and alcohol use “is toxic,” Rose said. “It’s very subtle and insidious. It’s like toxic mold, and the more it grows, you might not see it at first, but eventually you realize you need an overhaul, you need help.”

HART is launching its first teen group next week designed to help teens get on a path to recovery.

The group — for youth who struggle with alcohol or drug use or are in recovery — is built on the Seven Challenges, a substance use treatment program that’s different from the reigning Twelve Step model of recovery: The Seven Challenges were built with adolescents in mind.

“Seven Challenges is an evidence-based treatment model that has success that’s tried and true,” Rose said. “It’s very developmentally specific to youth. ... Everything is geared toward them.”

Seven Challenges are engaging tools for youth that offer strategies for daily living, said Rose, a longtime psychotherapist, chemical dependency professional and mother of four daughters 11 to 23 years old.

A speaker will present information about the Seven Challenges to all interested Islanders on Nov. 19 in an event Rose said she hopes is well attended. The event is for anyone who interacts with teens in any way, she said.

Seven Challenges is a program, according to the its Web site, that helps young people address their drug or alcohol issues and any “co-occurring life skill deficits, situational problems and psychological problems.”

Rose said she’s glad to be working with young adults on substance issues at the Island’s first state-licensed agency-run substance abuse treatment center.

“It is exciting and exhilarating,” she said. “This feels really positive and healthy, and the staff is so committed.”

Staff at HART include Rose and two part-time Chemical Dependency Professional Trainees, Ann White and Debby Rieschl. Rose has also reached out to naturopaths, yoga instructors, massage therapists and others who have agreed to be on HART’s list of complementary providers. When Rose feels it will help one of her clients, she refers the client to one of the providers.

Having a team of providers supporting clients is not typical of outpatient treatment centers, she said.

“That’s unique,” Rose said. “The team of professionals will provide the services to address the clients physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially — it’s holistic.”

HART also plans to collaborate with the Vashon Healthy Community Network to work on changing the social norms around drugs and alcohol on Vashon.

The Healthy Community Network recently won a $115,000 grant to address the Island’s seeming acceptance of youth drug and alcohol use, and Rose said she hopes to work with network staff on raising awareness of substance issues.

“We’re connected to them because the grant will raise awareness of these issues, and we’re here to provide treatment once awareness is raised,” Rose said.

Learn about the Seven Challenges

Nationally recognized speaker Rick Barr will discuss the Seven Challenges program at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, at Vashon Youth & Family Services.

This event is open to the public. Contact Daniel Macca at dmacca@vyfs.org or call 463-5511 for more information.

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