Fairbanks’ Odyssey Program designed for young adult men living with addiction

Erin Flick, Fairbanks’ clinical supervisor of adolescent services, ironically had zero interest in addiction medicine or working with young people while studying social work. An internship in Fairbanks’ adolescent program during the last semester of her master’s program changed that.

“I found that adolescents and young adults are very malleable,” Flick said. “They can change. It’s about relationships for them. And I like working with their families and all their stakeholders too, and watching when they get those ‘a-ha’ moments.”

Fairbanks established its Odyssey Program for men ages 19-24 after noticing a service gap for this demographic.

“They aren’t adolescents, but they weren’t necessarily independent adults either,” said Flick, who’s worked at Fairbanks for 13 years. “Many of them are still very much dependent on their families. They weren’t achieving a lot of the life milestones they were supposed to, like graduating from high school, obtaining a driver’s license and getting a job or going to college.”

Fairbanks leadership also noticed men in this age group weren’t very successful in traditional programming either. Odyssey is designed to help them develop skills for necessary lifestyle changes while supporting a transition into recovery.

While the program is highly structured – with lots of group and individual therapy – there’s also personal time for patients to work on themselves.

“They often don’t know what to do when they don’t have anything to do,” Flick said. “That seems to be the one area they struggle with the most. It’s not unusual for them to fill that time using drugs and alcohol.”

The average length of stay in the Odyssey Program is a month. All levels of care, from detox to outpatient programming, are included depending on what the individual needs.

“We really stress the length of your stay. The more time you spend here, the more prepared you’re going to be when you leave,” said Flick, adding patients also have the same counselor throughout the process.

Because young adults often need more support early in their recovery, family involvement is emphasized in the Odyssey Program. Family group meetings are conducted multiple times weekly.

“We really stress the importance of them being involved in their recovery,” Flick said. “You can’t just drop them off and tell them to fix themselves.”

Another critical component of care for this age group is peer and social support. It’s important for men of this age to learn you can have fun in sobriety while also supporting one another in their continuing recovery. After six to eight months of sustained sobriety, Odyssey alumni are invited back to Fairbanks to share their experiences with those currently in the program.

“There’s a core group that comes back on a regular basis,” Flick said. “They’re very passionate about giving back.”

For more information on the Odyssey Program, call 800-225-4673 or visit the website www.fairbankscd.org/programs/category/young-adult-programs.