(EDITOR'S NOTE: Over the next three days, Addiction Professional will post on its website the profiles of the three recipients of its Outstanding Clinical Care Awards. Our honorees also will be recognized Aug. 20 at our National Conference on Addiction Disorders in Denver.)
Rosecrance Health Network Young Adult Program
Locations: Rockford, Ill. (residential), Chicago (sober living)
Target population: Young-adult males ages 18 to 26
Quote: “The biggest eye-opening experiences for us have been around, 'How do we involve the family?'” says Rosecrance associate administrator Carlene Cardosi.
Rosecrance Health Network traditionally had treated all adult male patients in the same program, but leaders discovered that differences between younger and older adults in life skills, emotion regulation and other variables presented problems therapeutically. Establishing a separate program for young adults has allowed Rosecrance staff to sharpen its efforts to launch young adult patients to life.
Rosecrance associate administrator Carlene Cardosi, who coordinated young adult services in the facility for three years, says Rosecrance's performance improvement teams played an instrumental role in identifying the need for more broad-based and practical approaches to serving this population.
“Sitting in a circle with 16 young men and talking about feelings is painful, for everybody,” Cardosi explains.
The program, with a residential component typically featuring around a 35-day stay, employs a skills-based approach that permeates all therapeutic and leisure activities. Sporting and outdoor adventures therefore do not focus on excelling in the activity but on “what skills are needed so that the person becomes the adult they want to become,” says Cardosi.
She says Rosecrance recently has seen a significant increase in trauma-related symptoms among young adults presenting for treatment, as well as substantial problems in the family units to which these young people will return. Ongoing support for staff members who work with this population becomes essential. “It's kind of like we're raising someone else's child,” Cardosi says.
Program leaders have found that when they make inroads with interventions such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills, they also need to teach the same skills to family members, in order to improve the chances of sound communication between the patient and the family.
Other practical strategies include conducting mock job interviews with the young adults, in order to familiarize them with the tools they will need to pursue work.
Rosecrance evaluates program success with a combination of traditional and less conventional variables. Completion rates in the program hover at around 85%, compared with a 70% rate nationally, Cardosi says. About 80% of the young adult residential clients are referred to sober living post-treatment, and Rosecrance now operates a recovery residence for young adults at its newly opened Chicago location. Cardosi says post-treatment engagement generally proves stronger when a positive influencer in the young man's life helps to move him in that direction.
But in addition, Cardosi considers it a positive development when a client calls the program back for help post-treatment, where others might interpret this as a setback.
“Something about us made them feel accepted and loved for who they actually are,” she explains.