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Treatment center brings teens full circle

Parent Project helps families deal with drug use, peer pressure
By: Megan Wood The Press-Tribune
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When Christy Crandell’s son was arrested for armed robbery while under the influence of drugs a mere three weeks after his 18th birthday, she was at a loss for where to turn for help. Christy and two of her friends, Erin Johansen Santana and Terri Powell, began researching programs in the area and came across Parent Project, a parenting class for parents of teens that was being held in Roseville. “I thought, ‘gosh I can’t be the only parent who doesn’t know how prevalent drug use is in our community and wouldn’t this be wonderful to bring to our area?’” Crandell said. Powell took over the Parent Project program five years ago with the help of Crandell and Johansen Santana. Often-times, within the course of the 10-week program, they would uncover a substance abuse problem, but there wasn’t a rehabilitation program in the area they could call for help. Out of frustration, the three began a nonprofit treatment center for the Roseville community. The Full Circle Treatment Center opened its doors to the community in August and provides intensive outpatient treatment for teens dealing with substance abuse. Sarah, who preferred not to use her real name, 17, recently checked in to Full Circle after struggling with her substance abuse problem for more than a year. “Curiosity was my first trigger to start using … then it just opened up so many social opportunities and suddenly people wanted to be my friend. I felt popular,” Sarah said. Looking at Sarah, one wouldn’t guess she has a substance abuse problem. An honors student, Sarah maintains a high grade point average and participates in after-school activities. “My G.PA dropped to a 3.7 when I was using, but I just let my parents believe it was my early morning honors classes,” Sarah said. She is what the treatment center calls part of the “golden ghetto,” kids who are active in school, often in honors classes and don’t appear to fit the stereotype of having a drug problem. “I got really good at playing ‘secret agent,’ I had eye drops, body spray to cover the smell … my friends would answer phone calls and pretend to be their parents, I would tell my parents I’d be one place and really be at another,” Sarah said. Sarah confessed to driving and attending school while under the influence. She said that the rebellion factor drove a lot of her drug habit. She said the reason she was able to get away with it for so long was due to the fact that she had gotten so good at hiding the signs and was able to function as a student. Two weeks into Full Circle’s intensive rehabilitation program, Sarah said she’s already noticing a difference in her attitude toward drugs and is gaining a better understanding of why teens like her get involved in the activity. She says there are daily temptations, like hearing about classmates’ weekend parties, but that Full Circle is helping her to cope and stay sober. The 10-week program for teens involves four days a week group counseling sessions as well as individual sessions facilitated by Daniel Mansfield, a certified alcohol and drug counselor. There are also family therapy sessions, facilitated by clinical psychologist Angela Chanter who specializes in adolescent psychology, to involve the family in the patient’s treatment, as well as to address any issues or conflicts that may arise during treatment. Parents of teens participating in the program are required to attend Parent Project meetings to educate themselves on the behaviors of strong-willed teens and is designed to work in conjunction with Full Circle’s program. “We also do random drug testing to discourage teens from being tempted by their peers. It’s also a good excuse for them to use when presented with the opportunity,” Johansen Santana said. Friday evenings at Full Circle are party nights designed to re-acclimate teens to a social atmosphere without drug or alcohol use. The facility provides dinner and the patients participate in games, watch movies and participate in social activities with current and aftercare patients who are successfully staying clean from drugs and alcohol use. “Kids tend to learn best from each other, which is why the program is mostly focused on group therapy. They learn and recognize the patterns that they themselves followed and have a chance to see from the aftercare patients what it’s like to stay sober,” Mansfield said.