Minnesota Teen Challenge-Northland expands its programs to treat addictions
Minnesota Teen Challenge’s outpatient treatment program has expanded to a new facility with plans to add a mental health treatment program in March.
Paul Walsh / Living Stones News photographer
Paul Harkness, director of Minnesota Teen Challenge-Northland, and Kathy Jarve, director of Teen Challenge’s outpatient program, stand across the street from the outpatient treatment facility located on the corner of Lake Avenue and First Street, just one block from the main Teen Challenge campus in Duluth, Minn.
The Minnesota Teen Challenge Northland’s campus, 2 E. Second St., in Duluth, Minn., opened its doors on March 2, 2006 and has successfully provided a 12-14-month residential, faith-based drug and alcohol treatment program to men 18 years old and older. In March 2010, the State of Minnesota licensed Teen Challenge to provide outpatient treatment to the men of the residential programs as well as to nonresidential individuals (men and women) in the community who struggle with addictions.
The outpatient treatment program
The eight-week outpatient treatment program, meeting several times a week, is designed to assist individuals in gaining freedom from chemical addiction by applying recovery principles and establishing a chemical-free lifestyle. The outpatient program accepts most insurance programs, county funding (Minnesota counties), and Rule 25 funding (for individuals who do not have insurance for treatment) is available.
During the past year and a half, the outpatient treatment program has outgrown the facility on the corner of Lake Avenue and East Second Street, and just after Thanksgiving, the treatment center was relocated to a building on the corner of Lake Avenue and First Street, just one block from the main Teen Challenge campus in Duluth. The organization has plans to add a mental health component to the outpatient treatment program by March 2012.
Speaking to the need for an outpatient treatment program, Paul Harkness, director of Minnesota Teen Challenge-Northland, said Teen Challenge had a pool of men in the faith-based residential program needing treatment to be fully successful.
“We found that some would come into the faith-based program where they learn a lot about God, but when they would leave the program, they sometimes could wind up back in that crazy cycle of addiction,” Harkness said. “We had addressed the heart issue but didn’t give them the tools to understand their addiction.”
Harkness is quick to credit former pastoral counselor and founding treatment director Rachel Wickstrom and former center director Jonathan Miller for “doing the heavy lifting to get this program going.”
Kathy Jarve came to Teen Challenge-Northland in April 2011 to direct the outpatient treatment program. Jarve has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work and a chemical health degree. The Teen Challenge outpatient program has three full-time counselors, a funding and admissions coordinator and a student intern.
The staff members of the outpatient program see 25-30 clients a week. About half of the men from the long-term and short-term residential Teen Challenge programs are court-ordered to have treatment, and some residential men choose to take part in the program. Other clients are community residents.
Jarve said the outpatient program is effective for people in the community who are employed and can’t put their lives on hold to go to a yearlong program.
“But treatment in an outpatient program is something they can do while they continue to work and live in the community,” she said. “The outpatient program is based on best-practices methods with a 12-step component, which is a spiritually based. We offer other types of psychotherapy and interventions so they get a mixture of different learning styles.”
Harkness said people come to the treatment program because with Teen Challenge there is an expectation of a faith-based approach.
“Counselors are prepared to explore God’s peace with them if the clients bring it up,” he said.
The outpatient treatment program has an eight-week course schedule where counselors focus on different weekly learning modules.
Jarve said there are physical and psychological aspects to addiction. Clients need to understand what happens to their bodies and minds when addictions take hold.
“We focus on the healthy aspects of recovery,” she said. “We learn to take care of ourselves and how, in a sense, do we cleanse our body and mind.”
According to Jarve, the clients learn through the module courses what addiction does to them from a psychological aspect, whether it is depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
“We help them understand symptoms of mental illness in terms of if they are isolating or if they are feeling worthless or contemplating suicide,” Jarve said. “We help them understand that those may be symptoms of a mental illness.”
Mental health treatment
Minnesota Teen Challenge-Northland is dually licensed to address both chemical and mental health issues in one treatment to help clients in their recovery efforts. In March, a mental health component will be added to the outpatient program, opening another dimension into treatment and recovery.
Individuals who enroll in the outpatient program and show a likelihood of an undiagnosed mental health issue will be given a diagnostic assessment.
“We can offer them psychotherapy while they are in the outpatient program,” Jarve said. “And then we can transition them to other mental health providers in the community and keep that continuum of care going for them.”
Often a mental illness exists alongside an addiction. Harkness said co-occurring disorders are becoming more common. He added that the pace in which we live creates incredible stress, which in turn creates health problems.
Jarve believes that there has always been the possibility of a mental illnesses existing alongside an addiction. But because of the social stigma related to mental illness, people haven’t wanted to admit that they have depression, for example, so they have learned to self-medicate.
“We have more mental health professionals in the field who are recognizing those signs and symptoms of mental illness and are encouraging people to seek help,” she said. “The help may be talk therapy, grouppsychotherapy or in some cases, the use of prescribed medication to help alleviate their symptoms.
“A lot of people come from broken places. They may have carried trauma with them all their life and never had a diagnosis of maybe post-traumatic stress disorder, or have carried depression all their lives and never realized there may be a biological or environmental factor that contributed to the depression and have self-medicated for many years.”
Jarve indicated they are seeing a comeback of heroin use in the Duluth area as well as continued addictions of pharmaceutical pain medication, alcoholism, cocaine and methamphetamine.
Harkness said people are trying to put other things into the God-shaped hole in their lives, such as friends, fame and addictions.
“It is pretty phenomenal when Jesus starts to help people just see colors again,” he said. “You can taste. You can feel. You can cry. You start that healing process, and it is absolutely a resurrection ministry of hope.”
Individuals who enroll in the outpatient treatment program can expect to be treated based on the center’s core values of compassion, honesty, respect, integrity, servanthood and trust.
Jarve said it is a blessing to work in an environment where “we can do our jobs knowing it is in God’s hands and just trusting that we are providing a quality program for people.”
For more information, call (218) 740-5510.