Photo by Gwen Davis
Inge Martin and her grandson pick a winner during a raffle drawing at a teen recovery support meeting last week at Burien's Bison Creek Pizza.

Burien group aids teens with addiction recovery support

By Gwen Davis

Inge Martin dedicated the past six years of her life to helping her grandson fight addiction. And Sept. 28, Martin facilitated recovery for other Burien teens as well, though a new teen recovery support group.

"We have been going to a recovery group in downtown Seattle, but realized there was nothing in the south end," Martin said. "So we decided it was time for Burien to have something."

The recovery group met at Bison Creek Pizza on S.W. 153rd Street. Approximately two-dozen teens showed up. Martin dubbed the evening's success as "awesome, especially for our first time."

Martin spearheaded the group by collaborating with the Science and Management of Addictions (SAMA). A privately funded nonprofit based in Seattle, SAMA aims to improve management of substance abuse for 13 to 25-year-olds.

SAMA's goals include improving early detection of substance addictions, offering individualized treatment and providing resources to parents that provide for parenting empowerment. The organization offers drug and alcohol assessment and treatment planning, treatment services and family counseling.

Martin's grandson was 11-years-old when he first started struggling with addiction-related issues. Now the outgoing 17-year-old is stable and in long-term recovery. He said that he appreciates the SAMA services he has been receiving over the past year.

"They gave me ways to be self-motivated in my recovery," the young man said. "They have been there for me step by step."

The group plans to meet once a month. Requests have been made to the City Council for a permanent location and for broader funding. Wednesday's group was advertised via flyers and word-of-mouth.

According to SAMA, peer support groups such as these are needed for long-lasting recovery.

"SAMA supports this because we understand that the best way to help people solve their addiction issues is to stay connected with their peers also in recovery," said Gina Grappone, executive director of SAMA. "A lot of the time when someone leaves treatment they feel alone and isolated. They may go back to the same friends and fall back into the same patterns."

Martin snagged SAMA's support by being a member of the family action council, which does advocacy work with youth and their families with substance abuse and addiction issues. By way of rigorous grassroots planning and organizing within the community,

Martin gained the momentum to kick off this vision.

Martin further noted that such support groups are crucial for basic motivation of recovering teenagers.

"Kids in recovery sometimes feel outcast," she said. "We need to do something to keep them going in their recovery process and to acknowledge their efforts." According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the probability is high that many teens these days will be exposed to drugs and alcohol. Teens younger than 13 can be affected.

Continual peer pressure to experiment and lack of structure often furthers the occurrence. Since teens at times see drugs as a way to have fun, most do not realize the devastating consequences substance abuse can have on life down the road. Problems can include underperforming at school, withdrawal from responsibility, health issues, homelessness and crime. Treatment often is complex and will usually include counseling, behavioral therapy, parent support and peer support.

"The goal is not to just give them treatment," said Frank Couch, program director of SAMA who also attended the event on Wednesday. "It is to also give them treatment in the midst of offering other things that can foster healthy behavior."

To find out more about the group contact SAMA at 206-328-1719 or email info@samafoundation.org

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