On the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation in rural Montana, the Chippewa Cree Tribe is fighting underage drinking through the innovative Healing to Wellness Program, thanks to an OJJDP Tribal Juvenile Accountability Discretionary Grants (TJADG) program award. The Healing to Wellness Program uses the same basic strategies used by other juvenile drug courts in nontribal communities.
The Healing to Wellness Program helps juveniles recognize and take steps to overcome their drinking problems through evaluations, individual treatment plans, and cultural activities designed to build self-esteem. The 9-month program partners with a network of agencies that sponsor youth programs that address substance abuse and foster healthy lifestyles. The program provides incentives to motivate tribal youth to turn their lives around: court sentences are deferred while the youth participate in the program; if juveniles complete the program, prosecution is deferred.
The program consists of four phases with built-in accountability. The first phase includes clinical treatment, weekly court appearances, random drug and alcohol tests, and community service. Youth must be enrolled in school and participate in cultural awareness activities. The second phase emphasizes personal responsibility; juveniles must continue to meet a curfew, visit with a juvenile court counselor, and participate in drug and alcohol education. In the third phase, the young people begin assessing and applying what they have learned by mentoring other youth in the program and participating in other activities. During the final phase, adolescents are taught to recognize the signs of relapse, and the number of treatment sessions and random drug and alcohol tests is reduced.
The tribe recently expanded the program to include working with parents, providing education and information that fosters the health and well-being of the entire family. The goal is to ensure that tribal youth grow up in an environment that predisposes them to success and a healthy way of living.
For more information about the tribal youth programs, please visit OJJDP's Web site.