FDLTCC, drug court, partner on ‘Life Beyond Addiction’ program

Body: 

Carlton County drug court participants are getting a helping hand, thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Northland Foundation to Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. The funds will support the Life Beyond Addiction project, which will provide life management classes and addiction recovery support services to 30 drug court participants.

The goal of the specially designed life management course is to empower participants to improve the quality of their lives. The course is a skills based, measurable program designed to create a new, healthy self-image and worldview based on cognitive and behavioral change.

“Drug courts, now known as treatment courts, are about transformation and recovery. We are so grateful to Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and the Northland Foundation for their support of this program for our participants,” said Judge Leslie E. Beiers, Minnesota Sixth Judicial District. “We are already seeing positive results from our participants’ involvement in this programming.”

Change is practiced through a five-track course. Participants attend 30 hours of class time in small groups of eight, plus one-to-one sessions. The proposed schedule has the goal of all 30 participants completing by June 2017.

The Life Beyond Addiction program was originally created by the late Earnie Larsen, who designed a program of change utilizing cognitive restructuring, behavior modification, mindfulness, and accountability. Participants learn to manage the subconscious belief systems that bring stress into their lives. “Managing stress is vital for people in recovery to reduce the recidivism rates through getting to the source of challenging issues,” said Greta Winter-Jarvinen, LADC, and Chemical Dependency adjunct faculty at FDLTCC. “Our program addresses negative self-definition, values and belief systems, habits, and assists participants to create a personal program of change.”

Winter-Jarvinen is coordinating the project and is one of only three certified master trainers in Minnesota of the Life Beyond Addiction program.

The grant application cited examples of previous successes of participants completing the Life Beyond Addiction curriculum. Evaluations have indicated substantial increases in positive outcomes for individuals affected by drug addiction. Local success of the drug court approach combined with the Life Beyond Addiction opportunity may create greater impact in Carlton County through long-term positive outcomes for participants who live in rural locations and have less access to long-term support.

“This program has been successful for many people who struggle with addiction,” said Winter-Jarvinen. “I wanted to make it available to the drug court participants because many have gone through treatment numerous times, but have not been able to maintain a recovery lifestyle.”

Sharing and teaching life management skills to drug court participants in rural areas has recently become a strategy and concept embraced by the court and rehabilitation system.

“Life management is a much needed resource in Carlton County where treatment and even self-help support groups can be far and few between,” said Jared Hendler, drug court coordinator for the Minnesota Sixth Judicial District. “Those Drug Court participants who have graduated and internalized the teachings from life management are much more likely to be successful in the program and in life overall."  

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College has agreed to be the fiscal host for the grant and is providing space and resources for the classes. This partnership helps participants become familiar with the college setting and is a positive environment.

“No one has thought about tying together drug court participants and a college campus,” said Don Jarvinen, FDLTCC Human Services faculty. “It’s a simple idea to hold the life management classes on campus, but the real connection is directly showing participants what’s possible for their futures, establishing new relationships with positive role models, and lessening the risk of someone repeating the cycle of drug use and serving jail time.”

The grant award covers one year with specific grant objectives, evaluation, and reporting requirements.

The Northland Foundation announced in November grant awards totaling $421,850 to support 52 projects in northeastern Minnesota. For more information, about the Life Beyond Addiction project at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, contact Greta Winter-Jarvinen at greta@fdltcc.edu.