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Riley’s Story

At 16, Riley was heading down a bad path—smoking weed, hanging out with older friends. But it wasn’t until she was facing a felony charge that she knew she needed help. “It scared me,” Riley says. “So I texted my dad and said, ‘Hey, I think I want to go to treatment.’”

They began looking at adolescent treatment centers in the Midwest and found Ember Recovery. Riley and her dad scheduled a visit, and she checked into the program that same day.

A program of YSS, Ember Recovery offers an evidence-based, residential treatment for teenagers with substance use disorder. The only gender-responsive youth addiction program in Iowa, Ember has a boys’ house and a girls’ house in Ames.

In less than four months, Riley overcame her obstacles and learned to focus on her wellbeing. She grew close to the other girls in the house, explored hobbies such as painting and reading, and benefited from individual and group therapy.

“I learned a lot. Day in and day out, all you do is work on yourself,” Riley says. “Plus, I loved bonding with the girls and staff. When I graduated, I didn’t want to leave because they were like my family.”

Today, Riley lives in Florida with her own apartment and a job she loves. Nearly three years clean, she credits Ember Recovery and YSS with changing the direction of her life.

“If it weren’t for YSS, I wouldn’t have finished high school. I would have kept going down the path I was on and probably ended up in jail,” Riley says. “The program helped me so much. I’ll always remember it.”

Learn more about our Ember Recovery program.

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