County gets grant to help young drug abusers

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter



Did you know?

• The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has awarded grants to three Clark County-based programs in the last few weeks, totaling $2.65 million if all are renewed for three years.

An innovative program to help young drug abusers has received a start-up grant that could total $900,000 from federal health officials.

Clark County got a $300,000 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to establish a family-centered treatment and recovery program. The funding is renewable for up to three years.

“This grant allows us to not only treat juvenile offenders, but treat the family and provide some ancillary support services,” said Bradley Finegood, coordinator of Clark County Superior Court’s therapeutic courts.

The grant marks the beginning of a shift in the approach to treating adolescent substance abusers, Finegood said. SAMHSA issued 34 grants this week for family-centered adolescent abuse treatment; almost all went to prevention and counseling organizations, advocacy groups and health agencies.

Funding for Clark County’s therapeutic court system is a recognition that there is a place in the criminal-justice system for treatment options, said Finegood, who wrote the grant request.

“It’s changing the focus of the courts, from punitive to therapeutic jurisprudence,” Finegood said. “It’s a mechanism to try to help people.”

The grant also will help fill in for some recent funding losses.

“We’ve lost huge amounts of money for adolescent services because of state budget cuts,” said Cleve Thompson, manager of the county drug and alcohol program. “This is a timely grant.”

The program will serve about 40 adolescents and their families per year, Finegood said.

“It’s a voluntary program. You have to opt in,” Finegood said. “Youth or their families can choose the traditional route of the criminal-justice system, which can mean restorative justice, incarceration, an institution or different things on their criminal record. It’s a choice a family has.

“Families are willing and wanting to work on the problem,” Finegood continued. “You see families want to be part of the solution.”

The state has identified the need to involve families in treatment, he said. “It’s a way of increasing retention and improving success and long-term outcomes,” Finegood said.

“By working with families, effective community-based care and recovery support services can help ensure that young people in treatment achieve full recovery and go on to lead productive lives,” noted a news release that announced the grants.

Most of the money will be used for treatment. The county contracts with two Vancouver-based nonprofit agencies, Community Services Northwest and Lifeline Connections, for drug-treatment services.

SAMHSA, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has awarded grants recently to at least three programs based in Clark County. Consumer Voices Are Born, a nonprofit agency, received a $210,000 grant last month to expand its self-help recovery approach across Washington.

A week ago, the county’s Family Treatment Court received $1.48 million over three years to help the children of meth abusers. The county also will get a portion of a $3.35 million “Access to Recovery” grant SAMHSA awarded the state’s Department of Social and Health Services last week, Finegood said.

The family-based program features two approaches, starting with 12 sessions that follow a treatment manual. The second step is a continuing-care program delivered primarily through home visits.