SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – September is National Recovery Month, and OzarksFirst is shining a spotlight on a youth program in Springfield. Burrell Behavioral Health offers support to kids as young as 12-years-old.
Lawren Romine lived with addiction, and she is using her recovery story to help others in the program.
“My addiction started at a very young age,” Romine said.
Romine says she took her first drink when she was eight years old. It was out of her mother’s bottle. By the time she became a teenager, she had discovered marijuana with her cousins.
“I trusted them,” Romine said. “I believed that was an okay thing because we drove there, we drove back. It didn’t seem so dangerous.”
By age 16, she began taking unprescribed pain medication with her sister. That same year, Romine started using methamphetamine.
“I had given everything up,” Romine said. “I had let everything go, and that was fine because all I needed was to get high. I quickly realized I was going absolutely nowhere, and I had no options.”
Her breaking point happened when she went to prison.
“Took me to jail against my will,” Romine said. “I remember being in a place I didn’t want to be. But, it was that time to heal and to recover. That time away that I spent changed everything. I didn’t make the choice by myself. I was taken to a place that helped me.”
Now in recovery, Romine works where she used to be a client. At Burrell, she is a peer support specialist.
“I use all of the things that could very easily be regrets to work with the kids that come in here every day,” Romine said. “It’s a way to say, ‘Me too,’ and a way to help them feel that they’re not alone in this process and that there is a brighter end result.”
She helps 12 to 17-and-a-half year old’s.
“Early intervention is something that could change the rest of somebody’s life,” Romine said. “The younger we can start that process, the more beautiful their life can be.”
In Burrell’s youth program, kids are offered residential services, after-school programs, and monthly sessions. Amanda Mays is the mental health provider’s director of recovery services.
“We have individual therapy; we have family therapy, we have group therapy, we do group education,” Mays said. “We also have several individuals who can meet with our clients based on what the need is.”
Mays says at the moment, the need varies, from alcohol and marijuana to heroin and opiates.
“The youth recovery program is individualized, so it’s hard to give a specific number on how long someone is going to be here,” Mays said.
But, there have been success stories.
“We have kids that come up to the front desk and ask to see staff members after they’ve been gone for six months or so,” Mays said. “They update us on where they are at in school or if they have jobs or how their relationship is going with their family. We love to see the kids come back and tell their stories.”
Mays says some early signs of addiction are being secretive and sneaking out of the house. She encourages parents to have open conversations with their kids as they grow up.
Anyone who wants to learn more about the program is asked to call Burrell at 417-761-5400. If you are in a mental health emergency, call Burrell’s 24/7 crisis helpline at 1-800-494-7355.