Lone Star Expeditions Announces Exclusive Treatment Track for Teens With Addiction Disorders

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Adolescents confronting substance abuse and related issues learn about the 12-step model, relapse prevention strategies, and the process of recovery in the wilderness.

I thought there would be lots of laughs and giggles at the first meeting, but they actually got comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings faster than I ever could've imagined.

Last month, Lone Star Expeditions, a therapeutic wilderness program for troubled teens, introduced the program's first Addictive Disorders Track for boys and girls ages 13 to 17.

At Lone Star, the admissions process begins with a comprehensive assessment and Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI) to measure each student's level of involvement with drugs or alcohol. Students whose primary area of concern is in substance abuse or a co-occurring diagnosis will be placed in Lone Star's new Addictive Disorders Track. Those who are primarily exhibiting mood disorders, personality disorders, or behavioral issues will be placed in a separate group.

All of Lone Star's students, regardless of treatment track placement, engage in the same wilderness experience. However, students in the Addictive Disorders Track receive specialized substance abuse treatment as well. In addition to individual and group therapy, students in the addiction program participate in 12-step meetings, educational lessons, and sessions with substance abuse counselor John Courtney, LCDC, that take place three times a week.

"Roughly 80 percent of the students we admit for behavioral problems are also involved with substance abuse, and 30 percent present with chemical dependency issues," says Courtney, who spearheaded the Addictive Disorders Track. "We saw a clear need for a treatment track of this nature because very few wilderness programs treat the full range of addictive disorders, including video game addiction, eating disorders, and other compulsive behaviors."

The wilderness is a safe and effective place for adolescents to get sober. Students spend 24 hours a day in a drug-free, temptation-free environment with supportive peers who relate to each other's issues and positive adult role models who are specially trained to support the recovery process.

"I firmly believe the wilderness is a great place to accomplish almost anything," states Courtney. "Here, teens are away from their friends, their family, and the drugs. It's up to them to work this program - there are no excuses. This environment puts them on the spot to make some serious, life-changing decisions."

At the end of wilderness camp, field instructors and therapists make recommendations to each student's family for the next stage of treatment. Because they've already been exposed to the 12-step principles, students are well-equipped to continue their relapse prevention and recovery work, whether they go on to a long-term residential treatment facility or return home.

"The Lone Star program gives teens a jumpstart on the recovery process," says Melvin Cates, MA, LCCA, WEMT, Executive Director of Lone Star Expeditions. "We hold 12-step meetings in the field each week, so our students aren't scared or overwhelmed when they start attending those meetings outside of camp. By the time they leave, these students know they have a substance abuse problem, are willing to get help, and can confidently move into the next stage of treatment with an average of 45 days of sobriety under their belts."

Since June 1, when the first addiction group set out for the wilderness, dozens of teenage boys and girls have successfully embarked on the journey to recovery.

"So far, we've had an excellent response from the kids," says Courtney. "I thought there would be lots of laughs and giggles at the first meeting, but they actually got comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings faster than I ever could've imagined."

When Melvin Cates, who has 14 years of experience in the field of addiction, identified the need for a comprehensive treatment track for addictive disorders, he turned to trusted colleague, John Courtney, and said, "Make this work, and make it the best in the field." Cates adds, "That's exactly what we've done."

Lone Star Expeditions is a licensed wilderness treatment program located in Groveton, Texas, that treats students ages 13-17 who are experiencing emotional, behavioral, attention, or learning problems. Under the care of doctoral and master's level therapists who focus on assessment, intervention, and aftercare, students develop the confidence, coping skills, and communication strategies that are essential for healthy family relationships and success in daily life.

Lone Star Expeditions is a proud member of Aspen Education Group, the nation's largest and most comprehensive network of therapeutic schools and programs. Aspen Education Group offers professionals and families the opportunity to choose from a variety of therapeutic settings in order to best meet a student's unique academic and emotional needs. Aspen Education Group has been profiled by major news and television organizations around the world, including U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and People magazine, as well as on CNN, ABC's 20/20 and Good Morning America, NBC's The Today Show and Dateline NBC, National Public Radio, and the syndicated television show Dr. Phil. Aspen is a division of CRC Health Group, the nation's largest chemical dependency and related behavioral health organization. For more information about Aspen Education Group, visit http://www.aspeneducation.com or call (888) 972-7736. For more information about Lone Star Expeditions and the benefits of wilderness therapy, please call (866) 573-2002 or visit http://www.lonestarexpeditions.com.

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