Located in Sitka, Alaska, and founded in 1989, Raven’s Way (Yéil Jeeyáx) provides inpatient substance abuse treatment for Alaskan residents between the ages of 13 and 18. Raven’s Way implements evidence-based practices, adventure therapy and Native American cultural pursuits into the treatment protocol. Formerly, Raven’s Way exclusively served youth of Native descent, but presently accepts young people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Raven’s Way operates under the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) network and is on the same campus as Mount Edgecumbe Hospital and the Behavioral Health Clinic (Haa Toowóo Náakw Hít).
Accommodations and Food
Raven’s Way has a 12-bed capacity, but usually accepts no more than 10 clients at a time. Residents are paired in gender-specific rooms and reside in a cozy house. Since the program is primarily based on outdoor activities, minimal furnishings consist of dressers and beds. Cell phones and other electronics are not allowed.
Residents eat family-style in the dining room. Meals include hearty breakfasts and lunches that are carefully prepared, providing optimum nutrition and extra calories for the active teens. A typical breakfast includes granola with fresh fruit and pecans. Besides fruit juice (served during breakfast and lunch), beverages are limited to milk and water. Dinner is provided by Mount Edgecumbe Hospital’s cafeteria and is whatever was served during lunch at the hospital that day.
Treatment and Staff
At the beginning of the eight week program, clients undergo complete assessments by licensed medical and behavioral health providers. Teens requiring medication-assisted treatment and psychiatric care for co-occurring disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, depression and attention deficit disorder are referred to the Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Behavioral Health clinic. Detox services are not provided.
Raven’s Way’s eight week program utilizes several evidence-based techniques including DBT, CBT and the Matrix Model. Treatment includes group therapy, individual therapy and classes that teach teens about the 12 steps, the physical impact of substance abuse and how to deal with peer pressure. Group topics include relapse prevention and coping skills. In addition, residents maintain their academic education and are taught by a staff teacher. Adventure therapy and Native cultural activities are an integral part of treatment. Each group takes a seven-to1-10 day wilderness expedition that facilitates group bonding, self-reliance and allows them to explore the beautiful Alaskan outdoors and connect with Native traditions.
A typical day at Raven’s Way includes a morning jog, breakfast, morning meditation, school, lunch, group therapy, individual therapy, drug addiction class and a guest lecture. Since healthy sleep is considered a vital part of treatment, residents are provided with ample opportunities to rest. After 30 days in rehab, residents are considered responsible for their own bill. This grants them eligibility for Alaskan Medicaid that covers all of the treatment costs.
The small staff includes an expedition specialist, a CADC, and a secondary education teacher. The ratio of staff to residents is one-to0five.
Outdoor activities include kayaking, camping and hiking expeditions. Residents can also attend cultural lectures hosted by a Native American guest speaker. Other Native-inspired activities include talking in circles, participating in Native American sweat lodges (a type of purification ceremony), crafting medicine pouches and studying Native groups indigenous to Alaska, such as the local Tlingit Indian tribe.
For those seeking traditional inpatient rehab experience, this might not be the right match. However, for financially challenged teens of Alaskan residency who are looking for the great outdoors, this could be an ideal place to get a taste of Native culture plus the opportunity to hone social skills in a family-style environment.
Raven’s Way (Yéil Jeeyáx)
222 Tongass Dr
Sitka, AK 99835
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