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Sober students: Auburn Youth Resources spreads to Federal Way

Dawn Winkes, chemical dependency professional at Auburn Youth Resources, runs the weekly session in Federal Way. - Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror
Dawn Winkes, chemical dependency professional at Auburn Youth Resources, runs the weekly session in Federal Way.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror

A non-profit counseling service wants more sober teens in Federal Way.

About eight high school students have so far signed on for a new Federal Way chemical dependency treatment group through Auburn Youth Resources.

The non-profit organization counsels at-risk teens across South King County. AYR works within six other school districts for low-level care, typically tackling alcohol and marijuana habits. Students with more severe problems, such as a heroin or meth addiction, are referred to more appropriate care. AYR serves roughly 240 area youth a year, and also provides intervention programs.

In Federal Way, the new weekly outpatient session is held at a private office, ready to grow. AYR services are not sponsored by Federal Way Public Schools, although the organization is reaching out to school counselors for referrals. A meeting for communication purposes is planned with Federal Way counselors in April.

"We're committed to this program in Federal Way," said Dawn Winkes, chemical dependency professional, who runs the weekly session in the city. "The ultimate goal is for these youth to have a healthy happy life without drugs and alcohol to cope with life's problems."

School counselors in Federal Way typically address academic and social issues. However, the counselors can and do refer students to treatment programs. Counselors are a thinning resource for the school district, with some schools, including Todd Beamer High School, lacking counselors altogether.

Federal Way Public Schools provides information about programs such as AYR, Lakeside-Milam and Intercept to students and parents when drug or alcohol issues are suspected, according to district spokeswoman Deb Stenberg. Most students go to Lakeside-Milam because the drug and alcohol assessments are free, Stenberg said. Families with private health insurance often find treatment through Lakeside or Intercept, she said.

Federal Way resident Pat Godfrey is among local advocates for clean and sober living, especially the ongoing recovery process. He said there is a lack of services for youth as well as adults in Federal Way.

"We've had a need to have a vehicle or a mechanism for youth to get involved in recovery early," said Godfrey, vice chairman of the King County Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Administrative Board. "If you can get a kid into some aspect of recovery as a teen for five months or longer, their chances of staying clean and sober are 80 percent."

Nine out of 10 people with substance abuse problems started using as teenagers, Godfrey said. Children of alcoholics have a 50 percent chance of developing their own dependence.

"Most kids who are using in high school or college started in sixth or seventh grade," said Jim Blanchard, executive director of AYR, noting the need to help younger students. "If you can turn them around before they get out of high school, you'll probably save a lot."

Learn more

To learn more about Auburn Youth Resources, including information on assessments for your student, contact melindasc@ayr4kids.org or (253) 939-6946.

 

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