KCBS Reporter (Rebecca Corral): It's about to get a little easier to find drug and alcohol treatment for young people. The country's only accredited Internet drug and alcohol treatment provider has unveiled the nation's first online-based, interactive drug and alcohol treatment program. It's called the teenGetgoing program. It's run by the CRC Health Corporation. CEO Dr. Barry Karlin joins us now on the KCBS NewsLine. Doctor, thank you very much for your time this afternoon. Why online?
Dr. Karlin: Rebecca, that is a great question. As, undoubtedly, you are aware, there is a huge gap in delivery of treatment to teens in this country. Almost one-quarter of all 18-year-olds say they take drugs and alcohol, and the big challenge is how do you get teens treatment? And this is where the Internet comes in. Teens love the Internet. It's something that they find cool, and what we're doing is launching teenGetgoing, a unique, treatment-delivery mechanism which enables teens to get actual interactive audio/video-based treatment online. So what it's all about is giving teens a chance to get treatment online in a way that is otherwise unavailable.
Rebecca: What level of drug-problem kids can you treat this way?
Dr. Karlin: That varies. At one end, you can have kids who just really need education and awareness that they have not yet become addicted. At the other end of the scale are kids who do not require inpatient treatment because, of course, this is an outpatient program--If they require in-patient treatment they would need to check into a rehab center. But certainly kids who have a significant issue short of requiring a structured, intensive, inpatient program will find this a valuable program.
Rebecca: And how do you conduct the assessment to make that determination?
Dr. Karlin: What happens is, prior to the actual treatment program, we have an awareness program which, essentially, is an Internet-based program which is interactive, and the kids go through this program; they answer a whole series of questions. It's fun. It's exciting. What they do is answer these questions in an interactive way, and based on the results which we then assess, we can make the determination and do an evaluation as to the stage in which they find themselves. For those who do need treatment, they can then segue into the formal teenGetgoing treatment program.
Rebecca: A big part of treatment for a lot of drug and alcohol programs involve group. How do you come up with the group component over the Internet?
Dr. Karlin: That's what makes this so exciting because, in fact, it is a group treatment program. As you pointed out, the peer component is crucial in the treatment process. And what this involves, really, is a group typically of eight to ten kids, all of whom are receiving treatment online in the same group. So the kids might be at school, they might be at home, they're on their computers, they can all hear one another live just like an ordinary teleconference. They cannot see one another, but they can see a live video of the professional counselor. So it's designed to emulate, as close as possible, a group treatment session that might be in a normal center. That's the power of the Internet, and we take advantage of all the audio and video technology that are available nowadays to give kids a chance to get treatment out of their home.
Rebecca: And what about UA, the urinalysis, how do you manage that part?
Dr. Karlin: That, of course, will be done separately, so we work with a network of site organizations that perform UA's. The same thing applies if the kid would need a physician involved in the process; we have a network of physicians, including their own physicians, with whom we would work to provide that component of the treatment process.
Rebecca: Now I'm sure you realize that lying, scamming is a big part of the treatment process for a lot of kids. How do you get around it? I would think that it would be a whole lot easier to sort of scam your way through over Internet.
Dr. Karlin: You know, that's a great question, and there are two solutions to that. The long-term solution, which actually is not that far away, is the use of various biometric measures -- various devices which enable you to determine who, in fact, is online. For example, there is a new technology that is available which listens to the voice and involves pattern recognition and can identify whether you have the right kid online. We haven't quite gotten to that stage yet, but we're close to it. But in the meantime, what happens is that the counselors get to know the kids very well, and once they've given treatment for a few sessions, within a very short amount of time, it's pretty pretty tough for the kids to scam us. Fundamentally, the counselor can tell whether or not the right kid is actually involved in the treatment process. They can recognize their voice--the things they say, the things they don't say. So from the standpoint of scamming, that becomes something tough to do, and frankly, what we have found with our initial pilots is that kids don't want to do that. They get excited. They want to be there. They want to be involved. Ultimately, this is not designed to be a coercive process, but a process where the team is having fun and recognizes that this is helping them.
Rebecca: We're just about out of time, but is this based on a Twelve Step model? And what has been its success so far in your testing?
Dr. Karlin: It is based on a Twelve Step model. In fact, eGetgoing belongs to CRC Health Corporation, which is one of the largest providers of treatment in the United States. We own 55 centers nationwide. That is a very strong platform. The success so far has been extremely exciting and encouraging. We completed our first pilot a few weeks ago with the West Academy up in Oregon, with 20 kids, which went extremely well. It looks like this is going to be a tremendous step in revolutionizing the way in which we offer treatment to kids. (We are now completing another very successful pilot in several schools involving 50 students in San Jose).
Rebecca: Well, doctor, we thank you very much for the time and for the information. Dr. Barry Karlin, talking to us about an Internet treatment program for drug and alcohol abuse for teenagers. And we'll get that website to you, just go to our website, www.kcbs.com, and we'll hook you up.