Serving Adolescents through Specific Approaches and Services

The age between childhood and adulthood can often be a confusing time. Dealing with both physical and emotional development can lead to anger, frustration, anxiety, and stress. Adolescents, youth under the age of eighteen, demand very specific approaches and services in order to adequately meet their needs. They cannot be viewed as simply 'small adults' or 'big kids.' They must instead be seen as their own category and addressed as such.

WestCare offers a variety of programs and services that specifically focus on adolescents. For substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation, WestCare provides both residential and outpatient options for individuals between 12-17 years of age. The principle approach to adolescent treatment embraces the concept that behavioral change can occur though positive peer support. The term 'peer pressure' is usually seen as negative; but in a therapeutic community, encouraging and motivating 'peer pressure' can create positive change in young lives. Examples of programs such as these include: Building Our Youths Spirit (B.O.Y.S.) program in Nevada and YMAX in California.

WestCare understands that education is the key to prevention. Creating educational programming that specifically targets adolescents is a high feat. It must relate to what the youth are going through and meet them where they are. WestCare utilizes a variety of community, grassroots and innovative outreach efforts in order to increase community education for adolescents on a variety of health, recovery and social issues. Examples of programs such as these include: California's Education & Prevention, Florida's Boys to Boys and Improv.

WestCare hosts unique programs for adolescent women. In California, the Alpha Zeta Phi house opens its doors to girls who are pregnant, parenting and homeless. Through this transitional living program they learn life skills, are trained in positive parenting, and work to complete their education and secure employment. In North Carolina, the Girls Residential Program houses young women ages 13-17 that are referred by the Division of Juvenile Justice. This unique campus provides housing, education and independent living skills for girls who have behavioral and academic challenges.