Carbondale event combats youth substance abuse |

Carbondale event combats youth substance abuse


Aspen-based A Way Out recovery program and a panel of experts will discuss developing youth-based, peer-driven support groups to help teens avoid addiction and recover from it.

Where: The Gathering Place, Carbondale

When: 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 30 (Please come early)

A Way Out, a nonprofit that supports people in need of addiction treatment and counseling, is hosting award-winning filmmaker Greg Williams on Aug. 30 in Carbondale to show a portion of his film “Generation Found.”

Pizza and other refreshments will be available at the beginning of the event, which starts promptly at 5:30 p.m. at the Gathering Place.

“Our goal behind this event is really a call to action,” said Elizabeth Means, executive director of A Way Out. “We are looking to give youth in our area the same kind of opportunities youth elsewhere in the country have created to stay clean.”

At the heart of that call to action is the showing of a portion of Williams’ film. “Generation Found” is a powerful story about one community — Houston — coming together to ignite a youth addiction recovery revolution. Devastated by an epidemic of youth addiction, visionary counselors, law school dropouts, aspiring rock musicians, retired football players, oil industry executives and church leaders in the city came together to build the country’s largest peer-driven youth and family recovery community.

The film, according to its website, takes an unprecedented and intimate look at how a system of treatment centers, sober high schools, alternative peer groups and collegiate recovery programs can exist in concert to intervene early and provide a real and tested long-term solution for teens and young adults coping with difficult choices around use of alcohol and other drugs.

The Aug. 30 event will include a talk by Williams and the showing of his film, followed by a panel to discuss the state of youth substance use in the valley and how some of the work portrayed in Generation Found can be applied here.

The panel will be moderated by Jaywalker Lodge owner Bobby Ferguson and include Williams; Brianna Severine, who started a sober high school in Denver; Sonja Linman with the Roaring Fork School District; and Oyen Hoffman of Mountain Family Health in Rifle.

“I’m sure one area we will be talking about is the creation of alternative peer groups, the process for that, and where young people can come together to create their own safe social network with people their age who also want to have fun without using drugs and alcohol,” Means said.

Means said the idea behind the event came from the fact that her organization, which works almost exclusively with people who are already addicted and looking for a way out, has been fielding an increasing number of calls from parents who are worried about their high school and middle-school-aged children at schools throughout the valley. While marijuana is often a concern, most are aware that harder drugs including heroin and methamphetamine are used by teens in the area.

“We’re really hoping to engage educators — teachers, coaches and administrators — and begin a conversation on how to create an atmosphere where teens can feel safe and have fun staying sober,” Means said.

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