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Center seeks help in preventing abuse

Treatment— First Step Adolescent Center increasing outreach efforts, focus on prevention and intervention


Inside the group room at First Step Adolescent Center, there are four areas of handprints. Program director Rodney Robbins said he uses the first set to put an image behind what drug abuse can do to an individual. At the top, the black handprint is full, but as it moves down the door frame, it becomes thinner, just as one’s life changes with drug use.

“It becomes a copy of a copy,” Robbins said.

There is another section of black handprints, a memorial for those who succumbed to their addiction. The two remaining sets are bright and colorful, one group representing those who graduated from the program, the other just for fun.

At the center, Robbins uses outpatient therapy to treat substance abuse in teens. But a year ago he expanded the center and started a second track for adults.

“I’ve always just predominately done teens, but about a year ago I started getting calls from the community saying, ‘Hey do you do adult treatment?’” he said. So after making sure his license would allow the program, he started taking older patients. Now he has about 12 adults, ages ranging from 18 to 29, in outpatient care.

“Which is really good for a program only a year old,” he said.

But even more recently he started another new effort at the center: parental outreach.

“What there really needs to be going on is both prevention and intervention,” he said. “Prevention to get more information into the hands of parents, then intervention giving parents information so they can identify if there is a problem, (to say) ‘I need to get my kid some help.’”

So far, he’s worked with parent Lisa Waldel-Brown to coordinate presentations at Chehalem Valley Middle School and Ewing Young Elementary for the parent groups, and is looking to continue at the other elementary schools next month.

“My philosophy is this: we can’t lay the responsibility of dealing with teen drug use all on the schools. We need to be empower parents,” Robbins said. “We need to be empowering parents to be the catalyst for change.”

That involves working with the schools into next year as well, expanding presentations into all levels.

“This is what the research tells us. The younger you start talking to the child and planting those seeds of — not scare tactics — but seeds of a healthy lifestyle focusing on if you make healthy choices this is how your life can go,” he said. “This is really a prevention model.”

He’s hoping to take the community outreach a step further and hold a community meeting partnered with the Newberg-Dundee Police Department discussing symptoms, problems and trends.

“Really what I’m trying to do is move to a much more community-involved program that focuses on both prevention and intervention, because we really want to work on the drug problem on both ends,” Robbins said. “You’re not a bad person if you had a drug problem. It’s a medical issue, let’s treat it as such.”

For more information about First Step, visit www.fsac.net.




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