By Mark Nicklawske

Delivering chemical health treatment to young people battling drug and alcohol just got a little easier at the Hills Youth and Family Services.

For more than 15 years, The Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment in Duluth has helped residential clients at The Hills recover from a variety of chemical dependency issues. But recently transportation between the Woodland Hills neighborhood campus and the treatment facility on Superior Street has been a complication.

Earlier this year, a new arrangement permanently parked the inconvenient client shuttle.

The Center of Alcohol and Drug Treatment is now serving young people where they live, go to school and counsel under supervision. The new location makes treatment more convenient, efficient and safe for all.

“We were able to figure out that they were able to provide services actually on our campus,” said Kevin Szczyrbak. “That’s working out much better.”

Szczyrbak said the new on-campus location offers the best system for supervision, eliminates transportation issue and keeps young people out of the urban environment.

“It’s just a much safer environment for kids to be able to deal with their chemical dependency issues.” he said. “I think it’s just a little bit more comfortable for the kids. They know the room well, they know there’s staff around.”

A ride into town for treatment services takes time and can distract clients, said Szczyrbak.

“You want to put them in the best situation possible where you minimize the distractions and they can focus on the things they want to change in their lives,” he said.

Szczyrbak called the Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment a “great partner.” He said the organization has helped countless young people address and overcome chemical issues through its after-class outpatient work.

The Hills Director of Behavioral Services Dawn Peterson agreed. She said a significant number of young people at The Hills participate in the treatment program.

“(The Hills) treats youth for behavioral and mental health concerns and a large majority of our youth also experience chemical abuse or dependency issues,” she said. “We have a unique experience in offering both mental health and chemical dependency treatment for those youth who need it.”

Both Szczyrbak and Peterson said young people arrive at The Hills with a variety of mental health and chemical abuse issues. After staff evaluations, they are placed in specialized programs like the one provided by Center for Drug and Alcohol Treatment so they can learn to deal with issues.

“At times it is unclear what is driving a client’s dysregulation,” said Peterson. “So addressing them both simultaneously gives us a chance to move them farther down their roads to recovery.”