Torrance, Calif., March 20, 2012 - Torrance Memorial Medical Center's Thelma McMillen Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment has introduced a six-week program for teens and parents called First Step designed to provide information and skills for identifying, preventing and intervening in problems related to drug and alcohol use.
During the first two weeks of the program, teens and parents meet for one hour per week in separate groups led by credentialed staff members. After that initial phase, the two groups join together for further discussion. Topics of dialogue include recognizing the signs of drug use; developing healthy behaviors and coping methods; learning to say no; and improving family communication.
"We have never offered anything quite like this before," said Moe Gelbart, Ph.D., executive director, Thelma McMillen Center. "It's a psycho-educational program that is more than just a lecture, but not quite treatment."
He continued, "Sometimes parents are in denial or are embarrassed to admit their child might have a problem. The group provides a relaxed, non-threatening environment that is very effective in bringing to the surface impromptu thoughts and feelings people may not have known existed. It gives parents and teens a real first step toward assessing if there is a problem and what they can begin to do to resolve it."
The Thelma McMillen Center has been providing interventional services in nine area high schools for six years, but students are only referred after they already have a problem. First Step is designed as a tool for more proactive evaluation and prevention and to determine if a more comprehensive assessment, including drug testing, or treatment is needed.
The launch of First Step coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Torrance Memorial Outpatient Chemical Dependency Program, which started in 1992. Karl B. McMillen, Jr. expanded the program in 2003 with a generous gift of $5.3 million to establish the Thelma McMillen Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment in honor of his late wife.
According to Gelbart, First Step is the only program of its kind offered in the community free of charge. For more information or to enroll in the program call 310-784-4879.