CHRIS 180, an Atlanta-based nonprofit, Wednesday announced the opening of the CHRIS Counseling Center’s Tree House Program, launched to help youth struggling with substance use disorders at no cost for participants.

CHRIS stands for the organization’s values: Creativity, Honor, Respect, Integrity and Safety. The nonprofit serves and protects traumatized children, adults and families through trauma-informed, solution-focused programming that empowers them to change the direction of their lives.

The program is based at Fulton County’s North Service Center, 7741 Roswell Road, Suite 101 in Sandy Springs, and the public is invited to an open house event there Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The addition of the Tree House Program expands CHRIS 180’s mental health offerings across metro Atlanta and surrounding counties. Funded by a five-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it will serve youth and young adults ages 13 to 24 and their families at no cost.

CHRIS 180 and its partner, the Summit Counseling Center, applied for the grant to serve one of the growing troubling drug hotspots in metro Atlanta. The area, known as The Triangle, includes north Fulton (Sandy Springs and all cities north of it), west Gwinnett, south Forsyth and northwest DeKalb counties, and has seen a major surge in heroin and opioid use in recent years.

According to statistics provided by the Fulton government, the number of heroin- and opioid-related deaths in The Triangle has skyrocketed 4,000 percent. CHRIS 180’s program will address this growing problem of substance use disorders and related mental health disorders and will meet the needs of those who lack insurance coverage for treatment.

Clients in the program can receive comprehensive assessments, treatment, early intervention and recovery support services specialized for three groups: 13- to 17-year-olds, 18- to 24-year-olds and their family members. The program is an expansion of CHRIS 180’s counseling center services, located in DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties. The nonprofit’s licensed counselors provide individual, group, family and play therapy for clients of all ages who face mental health and substance use issues.

“Our mission is to heal children, build families and strengthen community. With the Tree House program, we will help young adults facing a critical crossroads and give youth and their families a hand up in the recovery process with the tools they need to lead lives free of substance use. And through this program, we are proud to help Fulton County further expand services to address a growing problem for its teens, young adults and families.” CHRIS 180 President and CEO Kathy Colbenson, LMFT, said in a news release.

For more information on the program, call 770-522-9909 or email Project Director Laura Davis at laura.davis@chris180.org. For more information on CHRIS 180, visit www.chris180.org.

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