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Encouraging recovery through nature: Youth addiction center opening in rural central Iowa

The newest YSS youth addiction recovery center will treat mental health and substance abuse problems in a more rural setting.

CAMBRIDGE, Iowa — YSS, an addiction recovery organization catering to children and families, will soon break ground on a center in Cambridge.

The nonprofit's CEO Andrew Allen said the new facility will be in a rural, wooded area. It will be their seventh location in Iowa.

"We want to connect kids to nature in a way that fuels them and encourages them into a life of recovery," Allen said. 

The center will have 70 beds and treat hundreds of kids each year in a three- to four-month program.

"It's focused on adolescents to get substance use disorder treatment," Allen said. "They come here, they get stabilized, they get acclimated and then we provide intensive treatment services to get them focused on sobriety."

Allen said centers like this are important because each year there are roughly 7,000 kids in Iowa who need treatment and don't get it. 

In addition to addiction recovery, the Cambridge location will provide crisis stabilization and emergency shelter.

"This project is going to bring much-needed beds and much-needed resources, but also help elevate the visibility of the need that exists for mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment and really addressing many of the needs coming out of the pandemic," Allen said. 

He said another benefit is reducing the number of parents taking their children to the hospital when they are experiencing mental health problems or drug issues. He said hospitals are not equipped for either of those circumstances. 

"Hospital settings aren't the right place to care for kids," Allen said. "It's expensive and they're not tailored to support substance use disorder treatment. So part of this program will help alleviate some of the needs from an emergency department perspective." 

As a YSS alum, Allen said he is excited about the project because he knows how much the program can help turn a life around.

The facility will cost roughly $13 million to complete. YSS already has locations in Ames, Boone, Des Moines, Marshalltown, Mason City and Webster City.

Allen said YSS expects to break ground this fall and start building in the spring. It's expected to be wrap up by fall 2023.

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