The Fond du Lac Mino Wii Jii Win Adolescent Treatment Program is just beginning. Staff moved into the homey wooden building in mid-August and got their first two clients Aug. 26. There are seven more referrals in the pipeline as well.
Mino Wii Jii Win will offer Native American teenagers six- or nine-month outpatient treatment programs, which the 12- to 17-year-olds will participate in after school and all day on Saturdays.
While alcohol and drug abuse is nothing new to teens, counselor Jennifer Manthey said she thinks things are even more dangerous now.
“I think kids today are getting into drugs at a lot younger age,” Manthey said. “And there are so many different kinds of drugs they’re experimenting with. It’s unbelievable what they have access to.”
Manthey said a big part of her job is responding to the “everyone parties” mantra, and helping her clients see that they are using chemicals (alcohol or drugs) as a coping skill.
“Their friends may drink to be social, but they use to cope: to deal with emotions, family life, stress,” she said. “They run to their drug of choice as a coping skill. Their friends may get drunk and silly, but not everyone that parties ends up having the police come or doing foolish things.”
Any potential client first has to have what is known as a Rule 25 Assessment, which determines whether there is an abuse problem and, if there is, to what degree.
Manthey is thrilled to be doing what she’s doing.
“This is my passion,” she said. “If I can help kids see what they’re doing, to focus on all the great assets and qualities they have, to help them have a brighter future … to teach them how to cope and have sober fun and focus on the their goals to get what they want.
“If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.”
The Mino Wii Jii Win program is a fourth option for adolescents with chemical abuse issues. Other treatment programs for teens in the area include the Haven in Cloquet, Miller Dwan in Duluth and Mash-Ka-Wisen, an inpatient Fond du Lac treatment center in Sawyer.
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