Juneau Youth Services is re-opening a teen intervention program in light of a recent alcohol-related fatal crash.
Teen Intervene is an individualized screening and brief intervention program, and it will be offered for free. It provides education, support and guidance for teens and parents.
“Getting the conversation started is mostly what it’s about,” said Susanne Coleman, residential director for Juneau Youth Services.
She said that means talking about why a teen feels compelled to use drugs or alcohol and discussing healthier ways to deal with anxiety, pressure and depression, which she said are commonly cited as among the reasons teens use drugs or alcohol.
“There are a lot of other ways to cope,” Coleman said. “You can achieve the same effect without the negatives drugs have.”
The program begins with a referral from a parent or guardian, and Teen Intervene began accepting referrals Monday.
A time is then scheduled for Coleman, who is a chemical dependency clinical supervisor, to meet with the teen. Goals are set, and Coleman said there is an ultimate meeting that includes her, the teen and their parents or guardians.
Referrals can be made by calling 789-7610 or 523-6512.
Coleman said in her past experience with the program, marijuana, alcohol and amphetamines in the form of prescription drugs were the substances most frequently misused. Over-the-counter medications such as cough syrup and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) were also common.
“There’s a lot of hesitation and minimization of the effects of substance use,” Coleman said.
She said since many people used alcohol or drugs during while in high school drinking and marijuana use aren’t always taken as seriously as they could be.
However, Coleman said both substances impair decision making, and one lapse in judgment could have life-altering consequences for young people.
“We need to help them understand the consequences of their decisions,” Coleman said.
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt