New Walden Grant Aimed at Youth Substance Abuse Recovery

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New Walden Grant Aimed at Youth Substance Abuse Recovery

California, MD - 11/16/2012

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By Dick Myers

Walden Behavioral Health (Walden) has received a grant from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to allow for an expansion of services to adolescents who are recovering from substance abuse issues. The $276,602 grant, which will be funneled through the St. Mary’s County Department of Aging and Human Services, will allow Walden to establish what its Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kathleen O’Brien described to the county commissioners as being a “clubhouse” at the agency’s St. Andrews Church Road complex in California.

The county commissioners on Tuesday, November 13 unanimously approved the grant which represented an increase from an already approved $30,000 grant from the same agency for recovery services for adults.

Commissioner Cindy Jones (R: 1st) said the new program will allow the county to provide a continuum of services to help the adolescents recover. Dr. O’Brien agreed, saying “Addiction is a chronic illness.”

Matthew Reisdorph, the county’s prevention and treatment coordinator, told the commissioners that St. Mary’s was one of several in the state identified for funding because they had a high number of adolescents in need of substance abuse services.

“We are really excited about this opportunity to work with young people who are really struggling with recovery,” Dr. O’Brien said. She said the new program which with be called Cove DFZ (for Drug Free Zone) will not be providing treatment but will be a place for the young people to gather in a safe place and be provided support services to aid in their recovery.

Walden’s Resource Engagement Coordinator Laura Webb said the program will be available for young people aged 12-17 who are recovering from drug or substance abuse issues or who are receiving treatment for it. She said the wellness program would be open from 3-8 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Sunday and would allow adolescents receiving services in one of the other buildings on the Walden campus to walk to the Cove DFZ.

Webb said the concept was for the adolescents to have a place to spend time either before group meetings or meeting with a counselor. The facility will provide recreation, life skills training, job skill training, help with school or GED work, wellness and sports activities, she said.

Webb said a January 15 opening is anticipated. Three additional staff people will be hired by Walden to run the program. She said peer support will be a big component of the center. “They will assist in helping to develop better, stronger coping skills,” she said. There also will be volunteer opportunities and current Walden staff will also assist in running the Cove DMZ.

The name of the center was suggested by adolescents in the Walden programs. Webb said focus groups will continue to meet to develop the program.

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