SEARHC substance abuse program for teens makes changes

Raven's Way seeks to increase student success rate

Changes made at a residential teen substance abuse treatment program in Sitka will hopefully increase the center’s success rate and allow more teens to get treated.

Raven’s Way is run by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. It’s billed as a cultural and adventure-based program that calls its residents students, not patients.

“(It’s) because we really feel like they’re here to learn,” Program Manager Rebecca Howe said. “They’re here to learn new ways of thinking about substances, new ways of communicating with the people around them, just a lot of new skills to help them choose a new lifestyle.”

The program has eliminated its enrollment schedule, which required teens to enroll for set dates, and increased the average stay from six weeks to eight weeks. Howe said both changes are key to ensuring that each student gets the treatment that they need, when they need it.

“Before, if a student left the program early, we’d have a bed that was open until the next course started,” Howe said. “The change will allow us to get people in quicker. It also allows us, because we don’t have a set date of enrollment, to allow them another week of treatment if they need it.”

Howe said the program’s success rate is about 50 percent, which she said is on the higher side of the spectrum compared to other teen rehabilitation facilities. While about half of the students don’t completely give up using drugs, she said about half of those do report using significantly less. Howe said the immediate goal is to get the success rate up to 60 percent. She said the changes were implemented about a month ago and she’s already seen improvements.

“Just the amount of recovery talk that they’re engaging in, it seems like they’re really getting it,” Howe said. “I really feel that were going to be able to meet our students needs in a better fashion and help set them up for success.”

• Contact reporter Jennifer Canfield at 523-2279 or at jennifer.n.canfield@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/canfieldjenn.

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