Reimagining Chanlyut

The Chanlyut program reopens to fill a significant gap in inpatient recovery treatment

In 2006, CITC’s Chanlyut program opened its doors to men recovering from addiction or returning to society after incarceration. Modeled on the Delancey Street program in San Francisco, Chanlyut’s 18-month residency offered men a place to live and receive work-training, recovery support — and, most of all, a second chance.

In fifteen years, the landscape of recovery services in Alaska has changed — and so has Chanlyut, by modifying the way it offers individuals a path to sobriety and employment.

This month, Chanlyut re-opens its doors as an American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) level 3.1 inpatient treatment program.

The change creates a more intensive program experience. On average, most residents will stay at Chanlyut for about six weeks. During that time, they will receive recovery treatment based on the Ernie Turner Center’s Therapeutic Village of Care model, along with three hours a day of work therapy, which includes attending Chanlyut’s Job Club, completing trainings, and developing both “hard” and “soft” workplace skills.

“Over the last couple years, both CITC and the state of Alaska have seen vast funding changes for recovery,” explained Katelyn McClelland, Senior Residential Manager at CITC. “CITC recognized there was a level of service missing in Alaska’s continuum of care. By placing the emphasis on workforce development, CITC has been able to maintain the integrity of the original Chanlyut program while transitioning to a model that’s both more sustainable and fills that gap in services.”

Filling the Gap

The Chanlyut residential recovery program offers a six-week stay for most residents.

The ASAM Levels of Care outline a continuum of care that allows counselors to provide recovery treatment services that match an individual’s identified needs. ASAM Level 3.1 is identified as a 24-hour living support and structure that offers at least five hours of clinical service a week.

“At this level of care, we’re focusing on individuals who are looking for supported living with intensive treatment components,” said Katelyn. “This level of service isn’t for people who are considered at imminent risk, such as residents in more acute settings, like the Ernie Turner Center.”

Individuals also receive case management, said Daniel Perkins, Chanlyut Program Manager. “A lot of men we serve don’t have the basics they need, like identification, to navigate community systems. We run them through a checklist to ensure that when they leave the program, they have everything they need to find housing and apply for a job.”

The revised Chanlyut program provides a stepping stone between long-term residential care and outpatient services. It can also be used as a tool to “reset,” Katelyn said, when a recovering individual is struggling.

“Addiction is a chronic disease, and just as someone recovering from cancer can have a relapse, so can someone recovering from addiction,” she elaborated. “This level isn’t meant to address an acute crisis, but it can provide that opportunity and support for someone who needs it.”

Reducing Recidivism through Strengthening Skills

Members of Chanlyut’s Job Club work on resume-building skills.

“In our community, there are many places offering recovery support, but recidivism is just not where it should be,” Daniel pointed out.

CITC’s answer to reducing recidivism among individuals who are previously incarcerated or recovering from addiction is to “shore up some basic areas of life that contribute to success in areas beyond recovery,” Daniel added.

To do that, Chanlyut has partnered with Alaska’s People, which not only administers the program’s Job Club, but provides job-search resources and guidance. Residents at Chanlyut also actively pursue trainings that will enhance their marketability.

Because some men at Chanlyut became entangled in the prison system as teens, they often lack skills others might take for granted, including familiarity with using a computer and navigating the internet. The Chanlyut program provides them an opportunity to fill in those blanks.

It also provides hands-on training, most notably through its kitchen worker training program. Residents take turns cycling through different responsibilities for running the residence’s kitchen, under the supervision of a commercial kitchen coordinator. When individuals graduate the Chanlyut program, they do so having earned a certificate that can help them find work.

Skills development isn’t just about building a resume for those living at Chanlyut. Finding a job after graduating from the program can be a key factor in helping individual stay sober and out of prison.

“Sometimes the transitional housing makes the difference between someone being homeless or going back to prison, and not,” said Daniel. “If we can give people the skills to fill in the gaps that addiction has taken, we’re not just doing recovery work; we can help heal the whole person in very practical ways.”

Learn more about CITC’s Chanlyut program, or explore our entire Recovery Services continuum of care.