When addicts are ready for treatment, it should be ready for them

Last of an occasional series

Senior Iowa officials sat under a tent in a rural setting near Cambridge last summer, waiting to dig dirt and voice their hopes for a new drug treatment facility.

A handful of young residents from the non-profit youth and home service stood on the outskirts of town and listened. They heard Gov. Kim Reynolds tell the crowd, regarding her own previous arrests for drunk driving and driving prior to her tenure as governor, “Only those who have battled addiction know how excruciating it is.”

They heard Marissa Eyanson, the administrator of community mental health and disability services in the Iowa Department of Human Services, share her story of how she dropped out of high school with untreated issues and went to work at 17.

And they listened to Andrew Allen, CEO and president of Ames-based YSS, which helps youth like you in crisis, how this agency saved his life. He left a senior career at Principal to run it, and on this August day was preparing to break ground on the proposed $20 million rural center Ember. The 53-acre campus on donated land is scheduled to open in February 2024. It is an investment in what Allen calls “the healing power of nature” and will accommodate up to 72 clients, with emergency crisis stabilization accommodation and residences for the long-term treatment of adolescents and 18-23 year olds.