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San Cristobal Academy

Young Adult Program

San Cristobal Academy Program Information

Gender: Boys Only
Ages: 17 to 26
Grades: GED/College
Estimated Enrollment: 36
Length of Stay:
Program was founded in: 2001
Accreditations: Affiliations:

San Cristobal Academy Contact Information

PO Box 1661
Taos, NM 87571
Phone: (866) 918-8383
Fax: (575) 776-2513
School Contact: Katryn (Kat) Cross
Alternative Contact: David C. Johnson, M. Ed.
Therapy Provided?: Yes

Program Description:

The San Cristobal Academy (SCA) is a therapeutic, transitional learning center that offers educational and vocational programs to 18 to 26-year-old men struggling with one or more of the following issues: anger, depression, poor self-esteem, school failure, unsatisfactory job performance, and substance abuse. Located on a secluded working horse ranch high in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the SCA offers a year-long, three-stage therapeutic environment to gain work experience as well as a school program designed to teach young men the life skills they need to progress as successful adults.

Troubled teens and young adults are entering drug rehabilitation programs and residential treatment centers at staggering rates causing significant disruption to their educations. Even more alarming is the number of young adults and their families that attribute their educational experience as either the source or a significant contributing factor to the issues their son now faces.

Parents often speak of school systems that failed to recognize or support identified learning differences and/or special needs requiring Individual Education Plans (IEP's) with focused resources. Students often share stories of being isolated in "special" classrooms and ostracized and made fun of for not being like everyone else. Critics of our public school systems suggest that our current educational system remains a product of the industrial era "punching" out young adults off an assembly line failing to recognize societal changes that value and demand uniqueness, creativity and imagination. "One size fits all" teaching approaches favor some learner's, but leaves the majority "out in the cold" and creates the seeds for boredom, cynicism, mistrust of adults and a host of self-defeating behaviors including drug abuse, delinquency, entitlement, anger, and overall delayed maturation.

Unfortunately for many of the young men we work with school became a place where they were reminded daily that they weren't measuring up. To hear over and over again that you're failing tends to reinforce "failure" as your internal mantra and begins to define your self-image. There's little doubt that lifelong self-images are formed by how "successful" we are in school.

The cost of lost hope is incalculable and unacceptable. San Cristobal Academy's mission and purpose for existing is to help each young man we serve, no matter their journey, to rediscover their innate sense of wonder and curiosity leading to belief in themselves and an internal desire for a better future.

Self-knowledge and acceptance serve as fundamental principles for long-term sobriety and each young man's ability to lead a successful, happy, life as an independent adult. Core to San Cristobal Academy's inside-out educational philosophy and all aspects of our curriculum is the Chinese proverb: "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life."

"Helping students help themselves" may take longer, but in the long run ensures that all young men attending our program leave with a "tool chest" for sustainable substance abuse recovery and life rehabilitation, which research has shown statistically to reduce the chances of relapse and/or the length of relapse episodes.

Taking the time to coach and mentor and insist on observing students using and practicing new skills builds new habits and behaviors that are repeatable all while developing self-confidence and improved self-esteem.

Mental illness and drug addiction top the list of the most elusive and frustrating chronic diseases to understand and effectively treat. The symptoms of one can mimic the other leaving treatment professionals and parents perplexed and unsure what to do. Making matters even more frustrating--both are very prone to relapse, with cures mostly outside the reach of the treatment community. It's not unusual for SCA to see young men with numerous failed treatment experiences prior to enrollment in the program. A common theme in most of their backgrounds is the presence of both mental illness and chemical dependency. Other themes include:

-Received only short-term (fewer than 120 days) drug and alcohol treatment
-Mostly mixed cultural backgrounds with wide age disparities
-Little or no integration of treatments for substance abuse and mental illness
-No aftercare plan or strategy
-Minimal use of peers or mentors

The psychological goals are to change the overall negative patterns of behaviors, feelings, and thinking that pre-disposes drug abuse. Successful rehabilitation, therefore, involves a multidimensional therapeutic effort encompassing different approaches based on the unique and complex needs of the individual. In the therapeutic community model you're acknowledging the importance of change coming from within. "Therapy" can come from many different aspects of the student's environment or community. For some young men, they may best respond to positive peer roll-models or for others they may get more from participation in animal-assisted therapy. Some students gravitate to group process and others individual counseling. The San Cristobal Academy treatment staff are trained in many therapeutic approaches, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT), Motivational Interviewing, Positive Peer Culture, and animal-assisted therapy.

San Cristobal Academy's Therapeutic Community has been designed or modified to meet the special needs of young adult men ages 17 to 26 suffering with chemical dependency and co-occurring disorders. Our highly focused and intensive therapeutic programs are structured and based on community-as-method (that is, the community serves as the primary agent for change.) Treatment is delivered in four phases with residents graduating from phase to phase with each phase corresponding to phases within the recovery process. The phase process allows for gradual progress rewarding improvement with increased independence and responsibility. Goals, objectives, and expected outcomes are established for each phase and then integrated into each resident's Independent Treatment Plan. Staff members function as role models, mentors, teachers, and therapists.

To put it simply, statistics prove that a longer a drug or alcohol-addicted person spends in a residential rehab program, the better their long-term prognosis. As such, the benefits of a long-term drug rehab program are not to be ignored.

The benefits of an extended program are incurred first and foremost, from the length of programming which can last up to two years or more in some difficult cases. These long rehabs are rarely used as an initial attempt to help a using addict, and generally long-term rehab is only undertaken in response to years of abuse, and repeated failures in other treatment environments.

If outpatient therapy does not prove sufficient, the next recommended step is often a residential rehab program or wilderness program, customarily about one to two months in duration, and if these rehabs do not serve to induce sobriety, the benefits offered by a long-term drug rehab become more persuasive.

When contemplating the life disruption of such a long sequestered stay versus the possible benefits of long-term drug rehab; the severity of the addiction, the length of abuse, and number of previous attempts at treatment should be examined.

Interestingly, studies show that patient willingness and desire for treatment do not greatly affect eventual outcomes of sobriety, and that court or otherwise mandated stays at a long-term rehab program prove almost equally effective as self admission to a program. The required changes in thinking do not need to occur prior to admission, and the lengthy and enforced sobriety offered by long-term rehab program are often enough to reverse the motivations of even the most reluctant participant.

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