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New Ulm Medical Center

Insight program to provide needed drug, alcohol dependence education in region

In the world of alcohol and drug use disorders, there aren’t just those who are dependent and those who are not, but many levels of users in between. We seem to hear a lot about heavy users who end up in treatment programs, jail or worse. But what about those who use or abuse drugs and/or alcohol just enough to be unhealthy but still don’t qualify for any kind of treatment services?

The Insight program, coming to New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) and open to the public, is meant to fulfill just that niche. The program is based on other similar, successful programs around the state.

“There is an obvious need for treatment and we provide an intensive level of that through both inpatient and outpatient services at New Ulm Medical Center,” said NUMC Substance Abuse Counselor Ben Schoo. “But the population that doesn’t need intensive services has been falling through the cracks.”

Insight is strictly an educational program, Schoo said, not to be confused with treatment or group therapy. It is a one-day, eight-hour session for anyone who is interested in attending, as well as those who may be court-ordered to attend a session.

“We look at everything from the ways in which chemical dependency affects family dynamics, to what kinds of chemical dependency trends are out there right now, to legal ramifications of use and abuse,” as well as other topics, Schoo said. The program is not only for users themselves but people who may be concerned about a family member and would like to gather more information.

The program has been run for eight years in Cambridge at the Cambridge Medical Center, also part of Allina Health.

“This class has the most up-to-date information about chemical dependency. The information is constantly changing because of new drugs that are becoming available so we have to make sure we have the most current information,” said Cambridge Medical Center Substance Abuse Counselor Dan Becker, who leads the program in Cambridge. “When people come to this program, they don’t want to hear what they heard 15 or 20 years ago when they were in junior high. They want to know what’s up to date.”

That is a key part of the success of the program, Becker said. Also, it’s a non-judgmental class, he said.

“Participants are not patients in the hospital, they are just coming to class as if it is a community education. So there is no judgment placed on individuals,” Becker said.

Schoo, who will lead the sessions in New Ulm, hopes for smaller groups of people as that will foster participation and discussion within the group. The frequency of the sessions will depend on interest, Schoo said, but he hopes to be able to offer it on a quarterly basis.

The first session will be Saturday, March 1. The cost of each session will be $100 per participant. For more information or to register, call 507-217-5118.