KYCC Recovery Services is an outpatient treatment program providing help for people facing drug and alcohol problems. Services are available to youth and adults ages 12 and up, men and women. Treatment is individualized according to each person’s needs and preferences toward successful long-term recovery.

First State-Certified Recovery Services Outpatient Program in Koreatown community

KYCC has offered mental health counseling to Korean American youth and their families since 1979. In the 1980s, we added alcohol and other drug (AOD) prevention programs, which included marijuana, prescription drug and tobacco education programs.

In August 2019, KYCC opened our own in-house outpatient substance use disorder treatment center.

KYCC’s clinic will be the first state-certified drug treatment program in Koreatown.

The center will provide help for people facing drug and alcohol problems. Services for youth (ages 12 and up) and adults will include individual, group and family counseling; crisis intervention; case management; recovery support services; information and referral; and drug screening.

“KYCC has always addressed recovery Services as part of our comprehensive mental health program,” stated Nayon Kang, LCSW, Director of Children and Family Services. “But we have long recognized the need in the Koreatown community for recovery Services treatment.”

“The Experimenting Starts Young”

Though there is no formal data set on substance use among Koreatown residents, according to KYCC staff, alcohol and marijuana are the top two substances misused, and the prescription drugs Xanax and Adderall are increasingly popular among youth.

“Methamphetamines and opioids are also on the rise,” says Hiroko Makiyama, LCSW, Director of the KYCC Recovery Services. “But the experimenting often starts young, during elementary and middle school, with alcohol, over-the-counter cold medicine and other easily accessed substances.”

Koreatown and its neighboring communities of Westlake, Pico Union and Macarthur Park are densely populated with alcohol outlets. With the legalization of marijuana sales and use, there is also now much easier access to cannabis products of all kinds.

Finding affordable professional help for persons with alcohol and drug problems is difficult to find in Koreatown. There are a few Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings in Koreatown, and no Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or youth programs. There are no outpatient clinics in Koreatown that accept Medi-Cal; there are none in a three-mile radius—the closest are in North Hollywood and Mid-Wilshire—but neither has Korean-speaking staff.

Clearing the Path

In 2016, California successfully obtained a five-year federal Medicaid waiver for residential mental health treatment (including Recovery Services) at facilities with 16 beds or more.  Combined with the California Medi-Cal expansion, a full continuum of Recovery Services treatment from inpatient detoxification to medication-assisted treatment is now available for low-income families and individuals.

While these services had already been available for youth under 21 and women with young children, these are now also available to all persons, including single adults, with incomes under  138% of the poverty level.  KYCC, as a State-Certified Drug Medi-Cal and County-contracted outpatient program, is now able to offer these services to community members.

A Dedicated and Experienced Team of Experts

The genesis of the KYCC program started in 2016, when then-Clinical Services Manager Nayon Kang saw the number of clients coming through KYCC who needed outpatient recovery services. “On the service end,” she explains, “the need was obvious.”

Ms. Makiyama and Wayne Sugita, KYCC’s Chief Program Development Officer, came on board. Makiyama, who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, was a counselor for five years, before moving on to become the Prevention Director. Sugita was the Interim Director and Chief Deputy Director for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Control Division.

The clinic’s medical director, Dr. Stephanie Chan, is a double board-certified child/adolescent and adult psychiatrist. From 2016-2017, she was the Medical Director for Twin Towers Treatment Centers in Torrance, providing supervision for its outpatient Recovery Services treatment program.

Recovery Services, is a culturally and linguistically competent center with Korean and Spanish-language capabilities where clients can stay connected—to come in and meet with a counselor or attend a group counseling session—in order to establish and maintain recovery. Adolescents and adults are treated separately, and services are also differentiated by gender or non-binary clients. Confidentiality and respect for families and individuals are of paramount importance to our mission.

“Addiction is a brain disease and a health condition and not a failing of moral or personal will,” Sugita explains. “Recovery treatments are being seen as health care services, which is a big change and opportunity in the health care field.”

“In my experience as a counselor, I saw a lot of clients referred to treatment,” Makiyama recalls. “They did not necessarily want to stop at first, but a lot of them got healthier, started jobs, went to college. I saw DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) cases when there were reports of child abuse and neglect, and when they successfully recover, they do become better parents.

Recovery Services, is a promising and much-needed service in Koreatown. For families, it is a place where loved ones can come for counseling and resources, for support during the critical aftercare phase of recovery.

“That’s why I stayed in this field as long as I have,” Makiyama adds, “because clients do recover. The years and years of bad habits they’ve learned is difficult to overcome, but they do get better and treatment does work.”