Alternative Youth Care (AYC) is an agency that provides a residential substance abuse treatment program and a sober living home for young male clients ages 13 to 21. Both AYC facilities are located on the same campus in the northwest Montana city of Kalispell. Residents participate in a 12-step, Hazelden-based program that addresses substance abuse disorders. Many clients come to AYC from The Wilderness Treatment Center, an inpatient treatment facility in Montana. Clients typically spend two months at that location, exploring treatment through wilderness adventures before transitioning into more structured care at AYC. The boundless natural resources of Montana, including Whitefish Resort and Glacier National Park, provide a beautiful setting to AYC clients progressing through a continuum of care.
Accommodations and Food
Staff keep the facility at AYC feeling more like home than like an institution. The three-story home is 14,000 square feet and can accommodate 20 residents. The location includes 10 bedrooms where clients sleep two to a room. There are also nine bathrooms, a full-service commercial kitchen and dining area, a study room (complete with a fireplace), a weights room, a designated counseling room and two expansive, wood-paneled living rooms. The home also overlooks Glacier National Park and has 3,000 square feet of deck space to observe it from.
AYC’s sober living home is no more than 100 yards from the main facility. The sober living provides space for 15 residents, and resembles summer camp lodgings. Clients are housed in a group of chalets, including 11 newly-remodeled rooms with full beds. Each room is private, though only some clients have private bathrooms. The facility also includes ample deck space, on-site laundry, two TVs with cable, access to kitchens and personal storage space. Sober living clients participate in cooking and cleaning.
Treatment and Staff
Clients and parents participate in a phone interview for screening prior to admission. Once residents are approved, the medical director conducts evaluations to identify underlying behavioral and emotional problems with each client. A psychiatrist and psychologist work on-site to assist clients with treatment needs, including dual-diagnosis support. Clinical staff help clients to develop individualized treatment plans and to formulate recovery goals. Residents generally stay an average of four to five months, though in some cases can stay for up to a year.
In residential treatment, clients begin the day at 6 am. Residents prepare breakfast, pause for meditation and complete clean-up before heading to work, school or other treatment-related activities. Most clients are either employed or attending school, therefore check-in and check-out times are flexible. AYC also offers education services so residents can keep up with classes by contracting teachers to work on-site. Evening meals are at 6 pm, which includes blocked time for clean-up and regularly-scheduled chores.
The clinical director and counselors on staff provide clients with individual and group therapy. Groups focus on developing coping mechanisms, identifying triggers for addictive behaviors and relapse prevention. All treatment is founded in the 12-step principles. Residents attend AA meetings three times a week at 7 pm on weeknights, or group therapy twice a week on nights not reserved for AA. Clients have free time at 9 pm for an hour, after which they are called to their rooms until lights out at 11 pm.
The summer interim program varies slightly in its schedule for clients, especially for those attending summer school. For clients in the sober living facility, Flathead Valley Community College is available nearby for those who opt to attend classes. Those in the sober living facility continue with 12-step as a stipulation of residency; they must meet with a sponsor, attend meetings and complete step work on a consistent basis. Counselors are LADCs who work on-site at the residential facility. There’s also an on-call for those at the sober living facility.
The second biggest part of treatment is clients participating in wilderness activities, including rafting, boating, hiking, horse-back riding and golfing.
In all, Alternative Youth Care provides clients with treatment and education in an environment more like a neighborhood or summer camp than a treatment facility. The focus on outdoor activities is beneficial to younger clients, especially for those who might be tentative about getting treatment. The vibrancy of Montana as a natural backdrop to treatment should also be appreciated for those who have an affinity for the outdoors.
Alternative Youth Care
4880 US Highway 93 S
Kalispell, MT 59901
Alternative Youth Care Cost: $5,500 (30 days, residential). Reach Alternative Youth Care by phone at (406) 857-2506.
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