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An Inside Look at Spectrum Health Systems’ Young Adult Program

Young adulthood is supposed to be a time for fun, finding yourself, and a (relatively) carefree lifestyle. However, one-third of young adults in the U.S. are struggling with addiction and mental illness. In fact, one-in-ten young adults between the age of 18 and 25 have an alcohol-use disorder (AUD) and one-in-seven have a substance use disorder (SUD).

At Spectrum’s 24-bed residential Young Adult Program in Westborough Mass., we treat male clients between ages 18 and 26 for AUDs and SUDs. With educational courses, in-house psychiatry, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and counseling, we help these young adults build a solid foundation for leading a life of recovery following discharge.

“Our young adult clients have unique programming needs,” said Emily Hescock, Director of Inpatient Services at Spectrum Health Systems. “It’s very different to have a substance use disorder at 18 years old than it is to have one at 40. This is the age group where you typically start to venture out to bars and attend a lot of parties. So, it’s really important to connect them with a community of their peers that can relate.”

Typically, program participants have experienced a difficult childhood.

“We’ve had clients come to us from households with a long history of drugs and violence,” Emily explained. “Many of our clients have never known a safe, stable home and suffer from intense trauma.”

Clients can stay in the Young Adult Program for up to a year. Actual length of stay is individualized depending on each client’s unique needs. In any given year, we treat between 50 to 60 clients. Some are referred by the court system, while others have transferred from Spectrum’s clinical stabilization services (CSS) and detoxification programs.

“The Young Adult Program works in phases. Our goal is for clients to have a well-practiced, healthy routine prior to discharge,” said Emily. “They are employed, they have an established AA/NA group, a sponsor and community connections they can continue to lean on.”

When someone has a substance use disorder at such a young age, they tend to lack fundamental life skills. Over the course of the program, our staff assists with the basics: how to open a bank account, manage money, how to write a resume and apply for employment, and even how to do laundry on their own. Clients work at local businesses in the area, such as restaurants, retail establishments, and warehouses. We also provide them with transportation to and from work.

“We’re trying to foster independence while they’re here so that it’s not a shock when they go from living in a sheltered environment to the real world,” said Emily. “During the course of treatment our clients eventually go ‘home’ for a weekend or out to visit family/friends; we want them to have these experiences so that they can identify potential stressors or triggers, bring them back to their counselor and develop a coping plan that increases their chance of success upon discharge.”

One hundred percent of our program graduates are employed with safe and stable housing upon discharge. Many continue to receive treatment with Spectrum through our network of outpatient treatment centers which provides a range of counseling services and medication-assisted treatment.

Spectrum’s Young Adult Program is available to males between the ages of 18 and 26 who are residents of Massachusetts, regardless of insurance status. We accept admissions Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm at our 155 Oak Street, Westborough Treatment Campus (The Charles J. Faris Recovery Center, fourth floor).

For more information about the Young Adult Program, please call our admissions team at 774-314-4906. During COVID-19, we ask that you please call first and schedule an appointment before arrival.

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