The Youth Program
When Cumberland Heights began its Adolescent Program in 1985 there were few other programs like it in the country. Today Cumberland Heights’ distinctive approach encompassing an adolescent’s developmental issues, unique learning styles and the influence of peers makes it one of the nation’s premier programs. We begin by teaching the fundamentals of the 12 Steps of recovery.
The Adolescent Program is up to 30 days in length and serves boys ages 14 to 18. We also offer an Extended Care Program, up to 180 days in length, for those who qualify. Although four weeks is the common length of stay for traditional treatment, studies have shown extending treatment creates a more solid foundation for ongoing recovery in adolescents.
Adolescent treatment is an active therapeutic and learning process. Our experienced staff implements a comprehensive education on the disease of addiction and an understanding of the obstacles to recovery through group and individual therapy, 12 Step meetings and family therapy.
The program features a fully accredited high school on-site, and each patient receives a complete educational assessment. Students can enroll in Cumberland Heights’ secondary school, River Road Academy, if necessary and school credits are applicable in all 50 states. Our full-time teachers work exclusively with our patients using creative methods and the latest technology to help them get the most from their education. Often students remain enrolled in their schools at home, while our teachers implement their schools lessons through electronic correspondence.
Therapeutic recreation and fun is also an essential part of the treatment experience for adolescents. Onsite activities might include playing disc golf or interacting with peers in the gymnasium with a fame of volleyball or basketball. The patients may occasionally travel off-site for activities such as a hockey game or movie.
Our treatment model consists of a multi-faceted approach, understanding that connecting and relating to the male adolescent can be a challenge, but essential for positive outcomes.
A detailed clinical interview is conducted to assess all areas of functioning with the teen, parents/guardians, and referring professional (therapist, educational consultant, psychiatrist). This information is utilized to develop a treatment plan used to guide the course of treatment.
Each teen participates in a psychiatric evaluation to manage mental health issues that frequently accompanies substance abuse. The onsite medical department manages any prescribed Psychotropic medication regimen.
The primary intervention utilized in the youth program is the Twelve Step model. The teen is educated on the 12 Steps and will be expected to actively participate. Participation includes attending on and offsite meetings a few times a week, obtaining a temporary sponsor and practice utilizing the sponsor, Big Book study groups and working through steps 1-3 is expected. Teen’s extending will work on steps 4 and 5 as time permits.
Each teen will participate in regular individual counseling with staff specializing in treating adolescent issues. Substance abuse and addictive behavior will be addressed. In addition, underlying issues will be addressed, including depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, trauma, grief, co-dependency on others, relationships with others, any issue that compliment the self-medicating behavior will be given attention.
Daily group therapy is provided. The focuses of these sessions are related to issues that all of the substance using teens can relate to. The therapeutic environment provides an opportunity for the teen’s to explore sensitive subjects, support each other, to heal from struggles shared by their peers, all under the guidance of an experienced and professional counselor.
Community and Milieu
The group of adolescents form the Community of peers in which they will be supported by and held accountable to. The treatment milieu provides the structure in which services are delivered. The focus is on role-modeling appropriate behavior, learning productive relationship skills, and nurturing independence while also learning to work as a team. Incentives are provided to reinforce productive participation.
Family Therapy and Involvement
The youth program offers several opportunities for families to get involved in the treatment process. Weekly therapy sessions, either in person or by phone, aid in identifying and working through issues within the family system. Weekly Sunday visitation is offered with the first eligible visit occurring 5 or more days after admission date. Weekly phone calls home are made by the teen, and regular letter writing is encouraged for both.
Substance use and addiction impact the entire family system. The family program is a four day intensive that focuses on education, support and healing for the members of the family that have been negatively impacted by their child/sibling abusing substances. Each day builds upon the one prior. The family program addresses addiction education, family dynamics, connection, communication, hope and healing. The adolescent family program also takes into account normal adolescent development and the impact of substances used on this process. We work with family to assist them in understanding and providing tools to effectively support their teen’s recovery. Additionally, this program links families with external resources to support their own recovery and healing process as well as family aftercare participants and youth alumni who share their own stores of strength and hope.
Academics and River Road Academy
River Road Academy is a state licensed private high school which meets the unique needs of students pursuing recovery from substances. Each student follows the curriculum of their local school district standards in all core and elective areas. River Road Academy will either partner with the students school and proctor course work or enroll as a traditional student at RRA. River Road Academy provides credit, credit recovery, EOC prep, and GED prep. In addition, our licensed teacher works closely with families to provide guidance when transitioning back into an academic setting.
Experiential Therapy/Ropes Course
Experiential/Adventure therapy is ideal for the adolescent male population; keeping them both physically active and mentally engaged. Our ropes course is designed to extract, through metaphor, various concepts of the 12 Steps including powerlessness, spirituality, and team work. In addition, adventure therapy helps teens that may find traditional talk therapy difficult.
Equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is a collaboration between a therapist and an equine specialist who work together to address treatment plan goals. This is an experiential process that incorporates horses for emotional growth and learning. Horses respond and interact with human emotions often mirroring patterns in a teen’s life and allowing them to increase awareness and work through these feelings and patterns in a non-traditional way. Equine assisted psychotherapy works to increase insight, identify individual patterns and build emotional intelligence. Equine assisted learning is most often used in the group setting to address necessary skills to support self-awareness and recovery such as communication, team work, trust and problem solving. Equine is effective with various issues including depression, anxiety, trauma and attention deficit disorders. As with all experiential work processing begins in the arena but continues through a patient’s stay as they continue to address barriers to their recovery.
Sand Tray Therapy
Sand tray provides a vehicle for some adolescents who may struggle to express themselves in traditional talk therapy to translate personal experience into a concrete, three-dimensional form and explore thoughts and feelings through symbolism and metaphor. Sand tray is a modality that therapists utilize based on individualized treatment planning for adolescents struggling with a wide range of co-occurring issues including: trauma, grief, relational problems, and abandonment and identity issues.
Spiritual programming is provided for the teen’s, which includes daily mediation, weekly spirituality groups and weekly chapel services. The teen is provided with the tools to pursue their own spiritual journey. Pastoral care services are provided for those youth struggling with specific spiritually based issues.
Continue Care Planning
It is important to make the transition from inpatient treatment as seamless as possible and still keeping the patients’ needs first. Preparing the patient and their families for aftercare services and discharge planning starts on the first day of treatment. The primary counselor and case manager will be working closely with the patient, family, and referent (if applicable) to formulate the best continue of care plan. (i.e. IOP, individual and/or family therapy, medication management if needed, and NA/AA meetings in your area) Our goal is to meet the patient’s individual needs and continue them on their journey of sobriety.
The treatment team will collaborate with referring professional’s or other professionals who have served the teen in the past or who have been identified to provide services post-discharge.
Hearing back from our alumni and their families is something we cherish in the Youth Program. We are constantly hearing back from our previous kids on how they are doing with their recovery through emails, phone calls, letters, visits, and donations. We have alumni come back and share their stories with our current community, which helps the teens relate to someone their own age with the same struggles. We have recently created a scrapbook filled with letters and emails from alumni for encouragement to our patients, families, and staff. Here are some memorable quotes: “Hardly a day goes by that I don’t appreciate and remember all that you and your team did for our family”, “Home is where the heart is and mine will forever be at Cumberland Heights”, “This week marked six months of total sobriety for our son and his miraculous journey of recovery”, “Every day I’m sober is a blessing and I plan to keep it that way for my family and especially myself”.