Youth substance abuse treatment programs now available in Lahaina

POSTED: June 23, 2011

LAHAINA — West Maui youth who seek substance abuse treatment can now get help in Lahaina.

Maui Youth & Family Services recently opened a new Adolescent Outpatient (OP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) Substance Abuse Treatment facility.

The center is currently open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. When school is back in session, the hours will be 3 to 6 p.m., said Christina Andersson, clinical director of Youth Services at MYFS and Aloha House.

“When we are able to intervene at a pivotal moment in a young person’s life, it often makes all the difference in the world in shaping their entire life,” said Andersson.

“With our program, we can directly impact and often change the course of direction for a youth, creating opportunity for a successful and balanced life. In the end, this benefits our entire community and has a very strong ripple effect.”

She explained that West Side youth have been referred to MYFS’ treatment program Upcountry, but they are hindered by transportation and timing.

The Lahaina students can’t get to Kahului by 2:30 p.m. after school to catch the shuttle to the Makawao program.

“With limited resources, teens with needs of continued treatment throughout the summer months and/or higher level of care experienced difficulty being able to participate in MYFS’ only OP/IOP, at the time, in Makawao,” noted Jahanna Richards, BA, BSW, a Maui Youth & Family Services substance abuse counselor.

“Gratefully, with motivation and request, a center has been opened on the West Side!”

Teens can be referred by themselves; through their school principal, vice principal or counselors; by parents and legal guardians; and the judiciary.

Andersson said 96 young people ages 12-17 received help with substance abuse at the Upcountry site from July 2009 to July 2010. This year through April, 109 youth have participated.

Offered in Lahaina, the Adolescent Outpatient program is under eight hours per week, and Intensive Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment is provided for nine or more hours per week.

Some school staff refer students to the program to comply with state law.

Passed in 1999, Act 90 calls for the suspension or expulsion of public schoolchildren found to possess weapons, drugs, paraphernalia or alcohol on school grounds. The law authorizes suspension of students for more than 90 consecutive days for these violations.

Passed in 2006, Act 205 allows suspended students to undergo a substance abuse assessment, follow recommendations for treatment and return to school with the principal’s approval before 90 days.

Andersson said youth enter the program for a variety of reasons. Some kids want help, parents may want to refer their children, and some youth get in trouble and are sent into treatment by their school.

Maui Youth & Family Services also refers youth to other services and higher levels of care if needed.

The treatment programs are funded by the state Department of Health’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division, the Hawaii State Judiciary, Maui United Way, County of Maui and Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

For information, call Maui Youth & Family Services at 249-8691 or visit

Contributed by Lahaina News,  by MARK VIETH/EDITOR