MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The SMART Recovery For Teens program at HealthWest in Muskegon is working to help kids break free of the things that hold them back.
“It’s quite evident that teens struggle with addictive behaviors,” said Meaghan Dulin, clinical supervisor at mental health agency HealthWest.
Dulin said it’s the only program of its kind for teenagers in West Michigan. It helps them overcome addiction to drugs, alcohol, vaping, toxic relationships and gaming.
“Really anything that gets in the way of youth living their best life,” Dulin said.
Once a week for an hour, Dulin and another masters-level clinician meet with the teens around a conference room table. It’s a safe space to give them ways to cope with urges, stay motivated and manage their feelings and behaviors.
“Having that peer-to-peer interaction and knowing that they’re not alone, that felt sense of community, I think is probably the biggest thing,” Dulin said.
According to the Michigan Department of Education’s latest research in Muskegon County, more than 21% of high school students surveyed have smoked cigarettes and nearly 40% have consumed alcohol. The data also reveals almost 76% of the students surveyed reported their use of unprescribed drugs has a moderate or great risk.
Dulin said she hopes her program will help change the narrative.
“My personal hope is that youth will feel empowered to make decisions that set them on a trajectory in life they want to be on,” Dulin said.
The program isn’t connected to any police departments, detention facilities or any area schools. Dulin says she’s only connected to that conference-room table where she gives teenagers another shot.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been passionate about helping people,” Dulin said.
Dulin said teenagers don’t need any money and do not have to be enrolled in school to join the program. She said the only thing they have to do is show up at the HealthWest Transition Age Services Facility on the third floor of 131 E. Apple Ave. every Tuesday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.