Thelma McMillen Teen Outpatient Program Opens at Torrance Memorial

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Teenage drug and alcohol abuse to be tackled by a new program at the Thelma McMillen Center for Chemical Dependency Treatment at Torrance Memorial Medical center.

Torrance Memorial Medical Center is pleased to announce the opening of the Thelma McMillen Teen Outpatient Program providing substance abuse treatment for adolescents.

Named for the late Thelma McMillen, the program was made possible through the generous donation of Manhattan Beach resident Karl McMillen, who donated $5.3 million toward the development of the Thelma McMillen Center for Chemical Dependency Treatment. The donation allowed Torrance Memorial to expand its established outpatient treatment program for adults and enhance the program by adding a teen component.

"Karl's vision to help the youth of the South Bay overcome addiction to alcohol and drugs has been realized," said Greg Allen, Ph.D., program director for the Thelma McMillen Center for Chemical Dependency Treatment. "The Teen Outpatient Program utilizes a multi-disciplinary treatment team to meet adolescent needs on an individual, group and family basis."

The Teen Outpatient Program serves males and females, ages 13 to 17, with drug and alcohol abuse problems. The program is designed for adolescents who need an intensive and structured program for recovery, but do not need 24-hour supervision.

"In addition to a traditional approach to treating teen substance abuse, our program includes offering motivational talks aimed at successful life and career development, relaxation exercises and art therapy, and assistance with creating fitness and nutritional plans," said Moe Gelbart, Ph.D., executive director, Thelma McMillen Center for Chemical Dependency Treatment.

“We try to emphasize the importance of physical health along with psycho-emotional and spiritual well-being, “ reports Michael Nanko, Ph.D., Director of Business Development at the Center. “Adolescent drug use is associated with health problems in early adulthood. Studies have shown that adults in their mid-to-late twenties who had used drugs as teens reported more health problems than those who had never used drugs. Such health problems include: increased incidence of respiratory conditions, such as colds and sinus infections; cognitive problems, such as difficulty in concentrating, remembering, and learning; and headaches, dizziness, and vision problems.”

“Further, we know that working with school counselors is of critical importance in prevention and early identification. A range of school problems--reflected in failure, poor performance, truancy, placement in a special class, early dropping out, and a lack of commitment to education--have been viewed as common antecedents to initiation, use, and abuse of drugs. School problems themselves may not lead to drug use; rather, social factors which lead to poor school performance may be linked to drug involvement,” said Dr. Nanko.

However, Dr. Nanko emphasizes, “ Association with drug-using peers is perhaps the most strongly supported predictor of adolescent substance use. We have incorporated into the program training for teens on how to successfully establish new peer groups and develop skills on how to effectively handle peer pressure. “

The Thelma McMillen Center for Chemical Dependency Treatment is located at 3333 Skypark Drive, Torrance. For more information about the teen or the adult treatment program visit Torrance Memorial Medical Center's website at or call the program at 310-784-4879.


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