YES offers solutions to youth drug, alcohol use

KINGMAN - While Mohave County Probation Operations Supervisor Bridget Albin sees the negative effects drugs and alcohol have on today's youth, she also oversees their treatment with the Youth Enjoying Sobriety program.

"We try to get to youths with substance abuse problems as early as possible, because by they time they go on to meth and other drugs it may be too late," Albin said in a news release.

The YES program was created more than five years ago to help juveniles with substance abuse problems to achieve and maintain sobriety. The coed program is a collaboration between the Mohave County Probation Department and Mohave Mental Health.

"Before this program, we had no options to deal with these problems locally," Albin said.

The private, non-profit Mohave Mental Health supplied the therapy while the Probation Department dedicated one wing of its detention center to house up to eight juveniles at a time.

While services are available to all Mohave County probation juveniles from 14 to 17 years old, the program is administered in Kingman at the Juvenile Detention Center.

Right now there are five males and one female in the program. The boys sleep in a different area than the girls and interact through the program.

Juveniles do not get immediately placed in the program, according to Albin. They start on outpatient therapy and substance abuse education. Then, if they test positive for drugs and the initial program doesn't seem to be working, they are moved to the intensive outpatient program, Albin said.

"We look at a multitude of things, including where that youth is in school and, sometimes, psychological-educational evaluations are completed," Albin said. "When we decide to place someone in the YES program, we usually put them in detention first."

In detention, the juveniles can become sober before joining the program, Albin said.

Once in the program, juveniles are not considered detained individuals, she added. They can attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and recreational activities sponsored by the program.

"We take them to the park and bowling to show them the positive things they can do in the community without having to use drugs or alcohol," Albin said.

During the whole process, the parents are involved. For parents who use drugs or alcohol as well, they too have their own group session.

Also part of the process is participation in community restitution. Albin oversees community restitution for Mohave County juvenile and adult services, as well as all treatment programs.

Last year, juvenile community restitution completed 28,975.9 hours of service, Albin said. At the Arizona minimum wage, the service would have cost $195,580.58.

The juveniles worked with other agencies ranging from the Bureau of Land Management to non-profits. They've done cleanups and cleared trails in the Hualapai Mountains, Bullhead City and Davis Dam.

As for adult community restitution, they completed 56,332.45 hours, which would have cost $380,244.04.

Taking partially from the former Shock incarceration facility, YES utilizes strict rules and discipline.

"It's paramilitary style," Albin said. "It's not a boot camp, but we have some aspects of that .... They have the structure and intensity of a boot camp as well as the high expectations of what we want from them."

One thing is clear: the program gets results.

"Our success rate is about 50 percent, which is actually higher than most residential treatment centers across the country," Albin said.

But it's not all about statistics: "We have had kids come back after a period of time and tell us that what they learned in the program truly helped them," she said.