The WestCare Foundation has grown explosively throughout the United States since its inception in the early 1970s, and no more so than in Nevada where it began. Today, WestCare Nevada’s aims are far reaching, but its main objective is to help people of all ages in especially challenging circumstances, which often means those who are homeless and addicted. To that end, it offers virtually every kind of care imaginable, spread across campuses in Reno, Pahrump and Las Vegas. The latter of these has three treatment facilities: the Community Involvement Center (or MLK facility), the Women’s and Children’s Campus and the Harris Springs Ranch. There’s also a fourth detox facility, the Community Triage Center.
Accommodations and Food
WestCare’s Women’s and Children’s Campus hosts residential treatment (called the Serenity Program) for adult women and social detox for adolescents. While it looks completely bare from the outside, the inside of the complex is decorated like a proud parent’s refrigerator. There are murals painted by kids hanging everywhere—peace signs, multi-colored handprints, flying birds. The facility boasts a playground, a basketball court and an indoor playroom stocked with toys. Outside are park benches and a gazebo for the adults, as well as a patio filled with four-person tables.
Common areas are furnished with TVs and board games, and the hallways are reminiscent of a hospital: brightly lit, bedrooms lining both sides and artwork on the white walls. Rooms are shared by clients without children, while families sleep together. Residents and their families eat together at faux-marble tables in the cafeteria, and there is also a new laundry room on-site.
The Harris Springs Ranch offers residential care for adult men and adolescent boys (called the BOYS program, short for Building Our Youth’s Spirits). The setting is rural and isolated, surrounded by hills and stretches of farmland. While a major fire in 2013 did some damage, the facility survived and stands today as a collection of buildings painted yellow and rusty red. Similar to the women’s facility, clients share rooms and eat collectively. While Harris Springs is not nearly as colorful as the Women and Children’s Campus, a sense of community is equally stressed.
Finally, the Community Involvement Center or MLK facility pictured above hosts all of WestCare’s outpatient programs (for adult men, women and adolescents), as well as their one-day Healing Families workshop (their version of a family program). This is a modest one-story office building, and can be found off the busy Martin Luther King Boulevard amidst furniture and clothing outlets.
Treatment and Staff
As mentioned, WestCare Nevada in Las Vegas offers detox for adolescents and adults in separate facilities. Boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 17 both detox without medication at the Women’s and Children’s Campus. Adolescent detox also shares a space with WestCare’s emergency homeless program for runaway and homeless adolescents (called Stepping Stones), and clients come both self-enrolled and referred by outside agencies. Post-detox, residents can stay to live in the shelter or move on to a further treatment program. On the other hand, WestCare’s adult detox (hosted in the Triage Center) does offer medication when necessary, administered by a team of nurses, social workers and psychiatrists under the supervision of a medical director.
WestCare Nevada’s Las Vegas facilities offer a range of substance abuse care for adolescents and adults, the highest level of which is residential. Adolescents boys between the ages of 13 and 17 do inpatient through the BOYS program at Harris Springs. The BOYS program employs a therapeutic community model, believing that change is best effected in the presence of peer support and peer pressure—this means that clients are essentially rewarded and penalized as a whole. It is in each boy’s interest, therefore, to reinforce good behavior in the others.
The same model is employed in the men’s residential program, and in the women’s Serenity Program at the Women’s and Children’s Campus. In all programs, clients advance in status and earn privileges the longer they remain in treatment. Though the Serenity Program operates essentially the same way as the men’s does, the former emphasizes teaching responsibility more than reporting the wrongdoing of others. At its heart, the Serenity Program is primarily about building self-esteem and independence.
There’s also the Healthy Families program at the Women’s and Children’s Campus (not to be confused with their Healing Families workshop), which is the only addiction program for pregnant and parenting women in Southern Nevada where women and children can still live together. Helping clients retain custody and reunite with their children while becoming economically self-sufficient are the main goals here.
All residential clients are also introduced to the 12 steps, and are encouraged to participate in local AA meetings. Each resident also has individual and group therapy appointments during the week, all led by either a Master’s-level therapist or a CADC. Periodic seminars and lectures from specialists round out treatment, where residents can learn about the disease of addiction as it affects mind and body.
A variety of outpatient services for adults and adolescents are also offered at the MLK facility. These programs use the Matrix Model as the basis for their curriculum, with a focus on correcting negative behaviors and creating coping strategies through CBT and relapse prevention. Adolescent outpatient means more group work for peer support, along with individual therapy sessions once a week. Adult outpatient is similar, except that groups are gender-specific and there are two levels of care, one of them more intensive. Still, both levels rely on the Matrix Model. Pregnant and parenting women also receive special outpatient care at the MLK facility, with content geared more towards family issues, relationships and bonding with children.
Finally, the MLK location is the only Las Vegas location that provides co-occurring counseling for those with issues like depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder and post-traumatic stress. These services are only available on an outpatient basis.
WestCare Nevada also offers help to high-risk youth offenders as referred by the Nevada Youth Parole Bureau through a special outpatient track. Clients in this program meet for weekly groups and individual sessions as well as weekly hearings in a drug court. Substance abuse counseling is also provided to inmates of Nevada State prisons, including those in transitional living or on federal or state probation. It also offers a one-day Healing Families workshop at the MLK facility, which seeks to educate addicts’ families about everything from addiction to relapse to recovery.
Aside from myriad Las Vegas offerings, WestCare Nevada has a similarly well-equipped set of facilities in Reno including a transitional living facility for veterans, a program for adult re-entry and an additional triage for detox. Last but not least is a multi-purpose facility in Pahrump, which offers adult and adolescent outpatient care.
Finally, the WestCare Foundation also hosts an annual town-hall style graduation ceremony for anyone who finishes one of their programs, complete with cap and gown.
Overall, WestCare Nevada is more than doing its part to keep families together and people off the streets. It uses peer-led treatment to empower clients which makes it possible to keep costs low. WestCare Nevada is a facility with many offerings, and a place where strong peer bonds—an integral part of sustained sobriety—can potentially form.
Women and Children’s Campus
5659 Duncan Dr
Las Vegas, NV 89130
Harris Springs Ranch
1200 Harris Springs Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89124
Las Vegas Community Triage Center
930 N. 4th St
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Community Involvement Center (MLK Center)
401 S. Martin Luther King Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89106
Community Involvement Center–Pahrump Campus
1161 S. Loop Rd, Ste B
Pahrump, NV 89048
Reno Community Triage Center
315 Record St #103
Reno, NV 89502
Reno Adult Re-Entry Services
525 S. Roberts St, #102,
Reno, NV 89502
Reno Homefront Veterans’ Transitional Living
316-340 Maine St
Reno, NV 89502
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