On any given night, as many as 40 kids between the ages of 12 and 17 rest and recover in beds at the De Paul Youth & Family Center on NE Killingsworth Street. Some seek help after a spiral into sex trafficking and meth addiction; others, parentless, are guided by counselors looking to turn them away from drinking and drugs. Inside the two-story former convent, they have access to a committed group of doctors and mentors, from youth medical detox services—the only program of its kind in the state—to the fully accredited De Paul Alternative School, which keeps kids from falling behind on schoolwork while they get their bearings.
That “full continuum” model also translates to De Paul’s downtown headquarters, where for 41 years the nonprofit has helped more than 30,000 adults and families struggling with addiction with a comprehensive recovery plan, from two-month residential stays to intensive outpatient services. “It’s time to start talking about addiction,” says Maree Wacker, De Paul’s CEO. “There’s a stigma around it, some kind of shame. But addiction doesn’t discriminate—we are all touched by it.”