Native American Treatment Center Closing

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, July 11 2013 at 4:37 PM, Updated: Thu, July 11 2013 at 4:55 PM

A drug and alcohol treatment program in Klamath Falls for Native American teens will be closing at the end of this month...the closure will also affect about 2 dozen employees.

'5 Directions' is one of only 11 substance abuse treatment centers in the U.S. targeting young Native Americans, who are considered a high-risk segment of the population.

"A lot of Native Americans, they really don't understand their own substance abuse, and why they use."  Explains 5 Directions Program Director Shawna Gallagher.  "And this relates back to our historical trauma, and how that plays out through the generations."

Despite the deep need, Gallagher adds there's just not enough money to keep the 5 Directions treatment center open...

"And with the recent sequester, it's even impacted the program more on a financial level."

About 450 Native American teens have been treated at the 16 bed facility.

The treatment center has been operating for the past 10 years, under the names of 'Wemble House', 'Klamath Youth Residential Treatment Center', and '5 Directions'.

Gail Hatcher of Klamath Tribal Health and Family Services says the closure could put about 6 to 8 of the 24 employees out of work...

"The majority, we have transitioned to other positions in tribal health, some have chosen just to go different directions."

Hatcher adds that Klamath Tribal Health isn't giving up completely...

"What we're going to do is hopefully ramp up our outpatient program."

But it's unlikely to make up for the loss of in-patient programs, like 5 Directions.

5 Directions has been serving Native American teens from a four state area, including Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California.

On a positive note, the Klamath County Juvenile Department is currently developing a residential substance abuse treatment program for teens to help meet the increasing demand.

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About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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