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Northwest Family Services meets with students and families at school to work on treatment

COURTESY PHOTO: JESUS RODRIGUEZ ON UNSPLASH - Drug counseling services began at Gresham and Barlow high schools last month. The schools are working with Northwest Family Services.

The Gresham-Barlow School District and Northwest Family Services have teamed up to provide drug and alcohol treatment services to students at Sam Barlow and Gresham high schools.

Since January, the services are available at both high school campuses. The new treatment offerings are aimed at keeping students healthy and engaged in school, preventing suspensions or expulsions and preventing substance use from getting started.

"It is critical that students who are dealing with drug and alcohol addiction get the help they need," said James Charles, the district's student support services program director.

Northwest Family Services, a state-approved outpatient alcohol and drug treatment provider, is providing students with both treatment and recovery services as well as relapse prevention, the district said in an announcement.

The program is focused on helping students develop skills and is designed to offer safety and support by providing structure, accountability, encouragement, honesty and caring feedback, the district said.

"We believe providing access to these services will help students stay engaged in school and reduce the long-term costs to the community associated with addiction and drop-outs," Charles said.

Students and families should contact their school counselor for more information or to request a referral if they want to use the Northwest Family Services treatment program.

Northwest Family Services has partnered with Multnomah County Mental Health and Addiction Services to cover the costs of the program for students who are uninsured or underinsured. 

Northwest Family Services already partners with other districts, including Reynolds School District in Troutdale, to support students.

Although substance abuse problems are not widespread among Oregon teenagers, many teenagers experiment with drug use, according to the 2019 Oregon Healthy Teens Survey.

That survey showed about 24% of high school juniors had at least one drink in the prior 30 days, about 20% had used marijuana or hashish and about 5% had used a prescription drug without a doctor's orders.

The survey does not break out numbers of Oregon students who have problems with alcohol or drugs. But, nationally, 14% of high school students reported binge drinking in the last month.

Excessive drinking is responsible for the deaths of more than 4,300 adolescents each year and about 119,000 emergency room visits, according to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System Survey, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


What is Northwest Family Services?

Portland-based Northwest Family Services is a multifaceted nonprofit that supports family stability, the well-being of children and victims of crime. It was started in 1983 and is a state-approved outpatient alcohol and drug treatment provider. 

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