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Fairbanks offers helpline for parents of adolescents facing drug and alcohol issues

October 30th, 2018

Fairbanks has debuted a new adolescent helpline for parents of adolescents who are struggling with substance use issues.

The helpline is focused on adolescents and males ages 19-24 who are struggling with Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Anyone may call the helpline at 317-691-7119 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday to talk with trained counselors.

“It often takes extra time and help in taking these types of calls,” Jackie Lewis, Fairbanks’ adolescent supervisor, said as a reason for establishing the helpline. “Given our knowledge of the adolescent programs at Fairbanks and our experience in working with this age group, we’re better equipped at answering any questions parents or referral sources may have.”

Lewis and Tiffany Hornaday, a Fairbanks case manager, will primarily answer calls to the helpline. Lewis said calls into Fairbanks about this age group generally encompass a variety of inquiries.

“Many parents are seeking help on deciding what to do with their child,” she said. “Most of the time they have no idea what the process is for treatment. We spend a lot of time helping them understand how it works. That can also include coaching them on getting a child who isn’t even aware they’re contacting us to agree to come to treatment.”

With adolescents and young adults, their SUD typically creates crises within their families, but the person in need of treatment doesn’t necessarily see it that way.

“It’s basically families saying, ‘This can’t continue,’ ” Lewis said. “You have to lay down expectations and let them make a decision. But that’s not often easy. You kind of have to meet parents where they’re at and guide them to what needs to happen.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean the transition from chaos to treatment is immediate.

“It can sometimes take four or five calls from parents before they decide something needs to be done,” Lewis said. “That’s why extra care often needs to be taken with this demographic. It can take a while to convince someone that young that there needs to be a change.”

Other times it’s still early in the young person’s adverse behavior, in which case Lewis cautions, “If you don’t address this now, you potentially run the risk of things snowballing into something worse. There needs to be structure and education utilized to not go down that path.”

Fairbanks also offers both inpatient and outpatient programming geared toward adolescents and young adults, as well as a recovery high school. That includes the Odyssey Program for men ages 19-24 and Hope Academy, a fully-accredited, tuition-free public charter high school that allows students recovering from drug and alcohol substance-use issues to earn their Core 40 diploma in a supportive environment.

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