Podcast Series: Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services

Gina Thorne: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Harmony Foundation Podcast series. It’s my pleasure today to be joined with Brad Waldo who is the director of referral relations and alumni services from Muir Woods Teen Treatment. Welcome, Brad.

Brad Waldo: Thanks, Gina.

Gina Thorne: It’s good to have you here.

Brad Waldo: Good to be here.

Gina Thorne: I’m excited to hear more about your program. We don’t do a lot of podcasts around adolescent treatment, but we do know that there’s a huge demand for it. Before we get into talking about Muir Woods, let’s talk a little bit about your background and how you got into the field of addiction treatment.

Brad Waldo: Right. I actually went to treatment when I was 17-years-old. It was a month before my 18th birthday and one difference between adolescent and adult treatment is actually that in most states you can’t sign yourself out until your 18. My parents knew that if I turned 18, I probably wouldn’t agree to go to treatment, so it was a bit earlier intervention than would’ve otherwise happened and I’ve stayed sober since.

Gina Thorne: Where did you go to treatment? What state? California?

Brad Waldo: California.

Gina Thorne: So, California says you have to be 17?

Brad Waldo: 18.

Gina Thorne: 18 to sign out.

Brad Waldo: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: Other states are different.

Brad Waldo: Yeah. Colorado is 15.

Gina Thorne: Colorado is 15.

Brad Waldo: Then, Washington State is 13.

Gina Thorne: Yeah. Wow, that’s so young.

Brad Waldo: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: Your role now is just giving back.

Brad Waldo: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: You’re working in the field to just …

Brad Waldo: Absolutely.

Gina Thorne: … Give back to those adolescents. That’s great.

Brad Waldo: Yeah. I’ve been working with the kids at our center for three years. In January, it will be three years and then another program in Southern California for teens …

Gina Thorne: Wonderful.

Brad Waldo: … For two years before that.

Gina Thorne: Okay. Well, it’s not an easy group to work with.

Brad Waldo: No.

Gina Thorne: Kudos to you guys because that’s not easy. Well, it’s called Muir Woods Trusted Teen Treatment. Correct?

Brad Waldo: Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services.

Gina Thorne: Okay.

Brad Waldo: Then, Trusted Teen Treatment is the …

Gina Thorne: Is the tagline.

Brad Waldo: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: Nice. You guys are located in Marin County, which most people wouldn’t know that, but that’s close to San Francisco area.

Brad Waldo: Yeah. Just outside of San Francisco.

Gina Thorne: You guys are a gender specific program, so you work with obviously adolescents 13 to 18?

Brad Waldo: Yeah.

Gina Thorne: Can you describe how teen rehab might be different? You might not know the specifics around this, but just curiously is there a big a difference between teen rehab and adult rehab?

Brad Waldo: Right. Yeah. The age at which someone can sign themselves out plays a factor in states like I mentioned. They have to go to … Kids have to go to school. Even the past summer, it’s August and the kid’s in treatment with us and he’s going “No, it’s summer vacation.” We’re going “Legally, you have to go to school a couple hours a day Monday through Friday.”

Gina Thorne: Wow.

Brad Waldo: That’s a difference and we have a school on site, a private school through the state of California. Another thing is we champion earlier intervention, so a lot of the people we see have a genetic predisposition for drug and alcohol abuse. There’s definitely abuse happening, but not chemical dependency yet. But, definitely people where that’s not too far in the future where a lot of boys we see, we’re boys only, might be … They’re definitely going to be in treatment by the time their first year of college rolls around, so coming to us.

Gina Thorne: Catching them early.

Brad Waldo: Yeah. [inaudible 00:03:14].

Gina Thorne: Because when we talked earlier, we talked about this idea of detox. Because you guys focus so much on that early intervention, there’s really not much detox that goes into adolescent treatment.

Brad Waldo: Not typically.

Gina Thorne:Okay.

Brad Waldo: The majority of the boys we see don’t come in actively detoxing from benzos, opiates, and really strong medically urgent type of way. We have a 24 hour LVN nurse practitioner that supervises all our boys when they come in, even if they’re just detoxing from cannabis. Mental detox, all that, they’re seeing a psychiatrist the first day they’re with us. Then, so we have and my story, it’s all going to be intertwined. When I went to treatment at 17, I was a full blown opiate addict, full blown Xanax addict. I did have a medial detox that I had to do prior to coming to treatment.

Gina Thorne: Okay. But, that’s not common typically?

Brad Waldo: Very rare.

Gina Thorne: Okay. You’re working, it’s a little different, not terribly different in some cases between adult and adolescent when you’re dealing with family. Families might be listening to this podcast today and they’re probably thinking to themselves what is it that my role needs to be in helping my teen in this case get into treatment because oftentimes they’re so enmeshed in the situation, there’s so much chaos and pain going around. What is it that you all do to help calm the parents down to help them see that this is a great place for them to come?

Brad Waldo: Great question. The work that we do is long term. We’re not a bandaid. The moment of crisis that family’s in when they’re considering treatment, we sit with them and it is a very fragile time in the child’s life, the family member’s life, and we’re family focused. We’re treating the whole family dynamic. We’re not treating just the kid. Then also, we’re treating what those fractures are within the family, within the loved one in treatment, and then treating substance abuse as the thing that’s on top of those things. It’s a difficult time. There’s no way to minimize that. If you’re seeking out teen treatment from calling me to graduating treatment and going on to continued care and becoming an alumni of the Muir Wood family, from start to finish you’re with people that understand.

Gina Thorne: That’s wonderful. You all obviously have a fairly strong family component I’m sure to really understand what is the family dynamic we’re going to play in this adolescent’s life after they finish treatment with you all.

Brad Waldo: Yeah. We do 90 minutes of family therapy a week in addition to the two individual sessions that the boy in treatment will have. We do a six hour family program every Saturday that includes a presentation by one of six presenters. It’s a six week curriculum and then multifamily process group, lunch, visitation. That’s every Saturday and then before families leave they do what’s called family intensive where they’ll go through all the work that the parents have been doing, the siblings have been doing, the loved one in treatment is doing. Before they leave, going through all that work.

Gina Thorne: That’s wonderful. It’s definitely a family disease, so it sounds like you’re capturing all the right services for them. This is your first visit to Harmony. What are your thoughts?

Brad Waldo: It’s gorgeous. It is. The staff is incredible. Estes Park. I’ve spent a lot of time in Colorado, but Estes Park is beautiful. It’s a little chilly today, which is nice. From growing up in Southern California, it’s welcomed. The program seems incredible. Everyone here from the clients on site to the staff, you can feel energy here.

Gina Thorne: Thank you. We’re excited …

Brad Waldo: You can’t reproduce that.

Gina Thorne: No, you really can’t. You’re right. We’re very excited about having a partnership with Muir Woods because even though we don’t treat adolescents, it is not uncommon for us to receive phone calls from family members who have adolescents that are struggling. I know that there’s a lot of people out there that are listening that are struggling and don’t know what to do with their adolescent son. Certainly, we would be a huge supporter of Muir Woods and want folks to keep you guys in mind. With that said, if someone is listening today and they wanted to access services at Muir Woods, how could they get in touch with you?

Brad Waldo: You can call me directly. My number is 714-318-0955. That’s my direct line. Call anytime for any reason. Then also, you could find us at www.muirwoodteen.com, M-U-I-R-W-O-O-D-T-E-E-N.com. Yeah. Anything we can do to help. The earlier the intervention is, we think the better and help is available.

Gina Thorne: Wonderful. Well, thanks again for taking the time to visit us.

Brad Waldo: Thanks for having me.