Los Angeles, (SHIELDS) June 8, 2012 – SAMHSA selected SHIELDS for Families to be featured on their “Road to Recovery” Television Series. The episode was titled “Families Are the Frontline: Preventing, Treating, and Recovering From Substance Use and Mental Disorders” and focused on the vital role families play in substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery in behavioral health.

In a discussion led by Ivette Torres, M.Ed., M.S., the episode featured SHIELDS for Families Exodus program as an example of an organization that integrates new approaches to reduce the number of individuals that lose their children as well provide comprehensive services for families in need of treatment. Exodus is a family-centered treatment program where the entire family resides in an individual family apartment within an 86 unit complex with comprehensive on-site services that meet the needs of homeless substance abusing women and their families. It is currently the only program in the United States that allows for the entire family unit to live in the treatment environment in individual family apartments while attending treatment with services including counseling, child development services, youth programs, individual therapy, educational groups, case management, and educational and vocational services.

Linda Brown of EMT Associates, Inc. interviewed on-site staff members and alumni who gave their perspectives on the benefits of family centered treatment and developing positive support systems. Sonia Heard, Alumna says “Having a place to live and being around other families that are like ours is very helpful. Because I feel like we get to help each other and it’s not just me getting help. I see that I’m not alone.” Patricia Alba, LCSW, Clinical Coordinator for the Substance Abuse Division goes on to say, “One of the things we try to do as early on as possible is to try to have our clients develop a real positive support system. Whether it be through church, through meetings, through other peers here at the program, reconnecting with other family members, I think that’s definitely the first step.” Sally Tapia CATC (Substance Abuse Counselor), Charlene K. Smith M.A. (Director of Child & Youth Services), Da-Londa Groenow, M.A. (Substance Abuse Administrator), Dumetreeus Heard (Alumna Spouse), Greta Brown (Alumna) and Danielle Lowe (Program Manager, Heros & Sheros Program) were also interviewed for this episode.

A strong family support environment is a proven protective factor in the prevention of mental or substance use disorders just as strong family support is critical in treatment and recovery. The Exodus program tries to break the cycle of addiction in which the child follows the parent into addictive behavior through culturally sensitive family centered treatment models. Family members are offered the opportunity to participate in family therapy, parenting and educational groups. In addition, significant others are provided with an on-site weekly support group and/or individual counseling. Children and adolescents are provided mental health and substance abuse services through our on-site Child Development Center as well our Heros & Sheros program which integrates its programming within Exodus’s treatment model.

SHIELDS is appreciative of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and any association dedicated to improving the lives of members of our community with the mission of empowering and advocating high-risk families.

The entire episode originally aired on June 4th and is now available for internet download: http://www.recoverymonth.gov/Multimedia/Road-to-Recovery-Television-Series.aspx.