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Schools, Programs, & Visit Reports - Apr, 1990 Issue 

Spirit Mountain Treatment Center
Lon Woodbury's Visit: April 19, 1990

Population: Chemically dependent girls, age 13-19.
Model: Eclectic, many aspects added to AA's 12 steps.
Founded: February, 1987
Program Length: 50 days, can be extended.
Current Size: 17 CAPACITY: 20
Credentials: Licensed by Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare as an Alcohol/Drug inpatient treatment facility.
Faculty: 8 professionals plus 14 support staff.
Academics: Most schools allow credit for time at Center.
Physical Activities: Aerobics, hikes, baseball, etc.
Family Participation: Weekly update calls; 4-day family issue confrontation.

Spring is a good time to visit this center. They have 60 acres of a secluded valley in North Idaho, which has more of a sense of isolation than most programs I've visited. While I was there, the grass was freshly green, early flowers were blooming, and the frogs in the pond and stream on the property were going crazy all day. It was truly springtime in the Rockies.

The Center's first year was a turmoil, with four different directors. Current Director Lynn Roddick has been there two years now and between her and Geri Vorhies, things have been stabilized. I think the early experience of the Center is a good example of how hard it is to put together a good Special Purpose program. They have learned to restrict many activities which feed negative feelings, such as TV and teen music.

Behavior change is obtained by focusing on improving self-esteem, largely through working the first five steps of AA. Key tools are a 3 day wilderness Solo away from the campus, 4-day family with the girl and her parents working through family issues, discussion and films on a variety of topics relating to making good choices and chemical dependency, recreation and physical activities, and AA meetings both on and off campus. Nurses are on campus so the Center can work with students on drugs such as Ritaline and Cylert.

Schools the girls return to have been very good about giving the girls academic credit for their time at Spirit Mountain. Credits have been allowed for Physical Education, English, Literature, Sociology, Botany, and Communication. Physical activity is required and is an important element in their healing concept. Activities include Aerobics, hiking, baseball, fishing, and backpacking. The State has restricted them from activities the Center used to do such as cross-country skiing, lake swimming, rollerskating, and chopping wood.

The Center keeps in touch with graduates and encourages them to use the toll-free number to call anytime they want to. In January of this year, in a one-year follow-up questionnaire, 72 students responded with 57 (79%) reporting they were still active in the AA program and maintaining sobriety.

Copyright 1990, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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