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Powerful Program Helps Students Recover Class Credits While Treating Their Addiction

Powerful Program Helps Students Recover Class Credits While Treating Their Addiction
Getting derailed youth back on track while examining their lives, drug use and choices for their future

“Some kids can smoke weed every day, still get to class and manage to function well,” commented Tiara, a 16 year-old program participant. “But not everyone can do both.”

According to this group of ten Clermont County teenagers, habitual marijuana use amongst their peers is the norm, not the exception.  A substance abuse situation that is so common place in their circles has resulted in, at least for these students, distraction and addiction to the point where they’re no longer on track to graduate.

There is one program option available to kids 15-18 years old in Clermont County that addresses simultaneously not only the credit recovery process, but the addiction issue as well. Cost-free for Clermont County residents, GCB’s Adolescent Day Treatment program is the only one of its kind in the area, and is offered year-round. 

LaRae Roach is the team leader for the Clermont Recovery Center’s (CRC is a division of GCB) Adolescent Services Department.  “There are usually bigger issues that these kids are trying to cope with,” says LaRae.  “There’s always a reason, or reasons, why they’re using drugs.”

The full-day program, described as intensive out-patient treatment, is available to students who have been referred to the CRC by a variety of sources.  Participation in the on-going group is always capped at ten, as students rotate through the program.

Operating at the CRC Monday through Friday, a typical full day consists of several hours of intensive work on credit recovery through Apex Learning (an online personalized digital curriculum), lunch, then group therapy, as well as individual therapy once a week. The program staff includes a full-time teacher, social worker and counselor.

On average, the students can make up between two to eight classes during the duration of the program, which can last between 12-16 weeks.  Once they’ve met their treatment plan goals, which includes staying sober and out of legal trouble, most will return to their respective high schools. The program requires close coordination with each student’s home school, to ensure accurate credit recovery, communication of progress, and ultimately, re-entry.

While at the CRC, each participant is also screened for any possible mental health issue, which can include depression, ADHD, anxiety and PTSD.  If there is already an existing diagnosis, or one is made, that student can receive treatment while participating in the program.

The program closely follows ‘The Seven Challenges,’ which is an evidence-based counseling curriculum designed specifically for this age-group, addressing the drug-use behavior, the underlying causes (including psychological and co-occurring problems), and lifestyle issues.

 “These kids want their lives back,” says LaRae, “and to live like normal teenagers.  A significant part of this program focuses on gaining awareness.”  Common issues amongst the students include struggles with social media (‘it’s primarily used to harass and tear people down more than anything else’), family problems as well as depression and anxiety

One of the students shared that prior to treatment, he was smoking pot daily – but since enrolling in this program, he has completely abstained, crediting the tools he now has to help control his urges.  “My focus is on graduation, and then a career with the Navy,” he says.

Tiara says that spending time every day with peers who were experiencing similar challenges in a small group setting was ‘very helpful’ in coming off the drug use. “I know now that I can recover from my mistakes,” she says. “This experience doesn’t define me, it just makes me stronger.”