Metro, News

Youth addiction recovery center receives $50,000 grant

New center will use peer-based recovery services to treat substance use disorder among youth

Staff Writer
Sunday, March 4, 2018

The court-ordered payment from an individual who pleaded guilty to growing marijuana will be used to support a new recovery center for teens struggling with addiction, according to a press release from the Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s office. The $50,000 grant from the criminal restitution case was awarded to The Providence Center — which helps individuals suffering from addiction — to provide support for the new Jim Gillen Anchor Youth Recovery Community Center, according to the press release. The state seized up to $900,000 in assets from the illegal operation, said Amy Kemp, spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office.

The Jim Gillen Center is the first institute in Rhode Island that “provides peer-based recovery services” for youth, said Owen Heleen, chief strategy officer of TPC. It serves as a new addition to the Anchor Recovery Community Center programs, which are run through TPC, he said, adding that the idea for the new youth  center came from a similar program in Houston. 

Most of the state’s previous efforts to combat substance abuse have targetted the ongoing opioid crisis, but “youth substance use disorders most often start out with teens using marijuana and alcohol, which can lead to using other illicit drugs as adults,” Kilmartin said in the press release.

A 2015 report from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that Rhode Islanders ages 12 to 17 were 28 percent more likely to use illicit drugs than than the average American. “Clearly there is a need for target recovery programs for youth,” Kemp said.

Teens are often most susceptible to relapse after school, Heleen added. “For young people with substance use disorder, they may get treatment … and go back to their home high school where it doesn’t take very long before they’re offered substances,” he said.

The Gillen Center  uses a new approach to help individuals recover from substance use disorders — a process called peer-based recovery. “People with lived experiences of addiction help other people who are in recovery maintain their recovery. It’s all about peer(s) providing support,” Heleen said.

The new center is currently in a “soft open” stage ­— it is only providing services to students at the Anchor Learning Academy, which is a part of the Anchor Recovery Community Center  programs, Heleen said. “They’re our first participants… It will very shortly be expanding to other high schools,” Heleen said. “In the long run we hope to intervene early and help young people stay in recovery.”

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