Helping Teens Break the Cycle of Substance Use

Meet Bailey and Jared, who together pair mental health and substance use counseling to guide teens towards recovery and well-being.
Photo of Bailey and Jared in office
Meet Bailey and Jared, who together pair mental health and substance use counseling to guide teens towards recovery and well-being.
Photo of Bailey and Jared in office
Meet Bailey and Jared, who together pair mental health and substance use counseling to guide teens towards recovery and well-being.

VOA Alaska’s March 2021 Newsletter. To receive this newsletter and other updates directly to your inbox, sign up here.

Ice cream has Ben and Jerry. VOA Alaska has Bailey and Jared—the dynamic duo who guide teens struggling with drugs or alcohol towards recovery and well-being.

“It’s not often that substance use and mental health exists in their own spheres,” Bailey explains. When pain occurs in someone’s life, it creates a void, Jared adds. “The majority of the time, substance use is trying to fill that void, but it never does, because the pain is still there. Then after long-term use, addiction sets in.” It creates a cycle of pain-usage-pain-usage.

Bailey Smith, as a Substance Use Counselor, works on reducing the substance use, preventing relapse, building coping skills, and guiding youth to recovery. Jared Becknell, as a Mental Health Clinician, works with youth on healing the pain and improving their overall mental well-being.

This partnership of substance use and mental health counseling is a key component of VOA Alaska’s Integrated Treatment Services, which also includes family support, peer support, and life-skills development. As soon as a teen walks through our door, they are immediately surrounded by a team dedicated to helping them with whatever their needs are in that moment.

Bailey Smith (left), Substance Use Counselor, and Jared Becknell, Mental Health Clinician, are working together to help teens break the cycle of substance use.

Sometimes that client-centered focus comes at a surprise. “A lot of youth arrive with their fists up, prepared to fight the system,” Jared says. It can be a challenge to show them that VOA Alaska doesn’t have to be like the experiences they’ve had before. So how do they know it will be different this time? “I work for you,” Bailey tells her clients. “I am here for you, to support you.”

The two of them work behind the scenes to ensure that through each counseling session, there’s a seamless conversation. The youth don’t have to repeat themselves; they don’t have to reopen wounds; they can continue forward and focus on what matters. And when the time comes to celebrate graduating from their substance use treatment, they can continue their mental health sessions with Jared—no new organization, no new people, no extra paperwork, just a continuation of receiving support from the team they already trust.

Alongside substance use and mental health counseling, the VOA Alaska treatment team also provide family support, support from peers who have overcome their own mental health or substance use challenges, and additional wellness and life-skills counseling. With free behavioral health consultations and same-day assessments, youth and their families can begin receiving care the day they reach out to us.

Make the call today at (907) 279-9640 or schedule a service online.

Addressing Youth Homelessness: It’s About Relationships

In 2017, a community that cares about youth houselessness came together to create our Community Plan to End Youth Homelessness and received funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP). This funding led to the creation of four projects, led by VOA Alaska, Covenant House Alaska, and Choosing Our Roots.

In our 2020 YHDP Partner Report, learn how we are working to end the experience of youth houselessness once and for all. It’s about relationships: relationships with youth to help them thrive, with other providers through strong partnerships, and with community supporters like you.

Celebrating 125 Years of Serving Our Community

Happy Birthday to VOA! We are proud to serve Alaska as an affiliate of Volunteers of America, which celebrates its 125th Anniversary this month. Our founders’ original vision was to “go wherever we are needed and do whatever comes to hand.” Back in 1896, volunteerism had a different meaning. To “volunteer” meant to serve others as a vocation. Today, the Alaska affiliate is honored to serve the youth and families of our beautiful state.

This Month’s Sponsor Spotlight

Thank you to TOTE for their support of VOA Alaska’s Permanent Supportive Housing Program and helping us help youth experiencing houselessness. By pairing affordable housing with counseling, community resources, and other supports, the Permanent Supportive Housing Program is offering hope to Alaska’s vulnerable young adults. Thank you, TOTE!