Vinland National Center’s chemical health program is celebrating its 20-year anniversary. The program began in 1990 after Vinland recognized a need for specialized services for individuals with disabilities. The chemical health program has steadily grown for the past 20 years and has established itself as the premier program at Vinland.
Vinland was founded in Loretto with a bicentennial gift to the United States from the Kingdom of Norway. It originally was planned as a comprehensive health/sports facility for people with various disabilities, and modeled after Beitostolen Helsesportsenter in Norway.
When Vinland began offering chemical health services for adults with brain injuries in 1990, no other organization provided a similar type of specialized service. Thanks to advancements in medical technology during the 1980s, survival rates for traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients had more than doubled. Services were evolving and expanding in scope to meet the growing demands of this population. Research at the time showed alcohol and drug use was involved with roughly 50 percent of traumatic brain injury accidents, and of those cases 50 percent of the people involved had a previous history of substance abuse.
Many people living with a brain injury have difficulty with memory, controlling impulsive behavior, focusing and concentration. Those are all skills important in traditional chemical dependency treatment programs, which is why many TBI survivors are unsuccessful in such programs.
Vinland developed a chemical dependency treatment program that could accommodate TBI survivors’ barriers to success and increase their chance for long-term sobriety. The new program placed an emphasis on positive reinforcement and low confrontation as a more appropriate way to interact with people living with brain injuries. The program proved beneficial not just for adults living with brain injuries, but people living with other types of disabilities such as learning disabilities and mental illnesses. Twenty years later, Vinland remains one of only a few treatment centers that provides chemical health services tailored for adults with cognitive disabilities. The program has received many awards over the years.
The chemical health program started out as a residential program with five beds at Vinland’s main campus. Demand for the program grew steadily, soon expanding to include outpatient, day treatment, and board and lodge services to better meet the needs of clients and managed care payers. In 1997 Vinland expanded into long-term supportive housing for chemically dependent people with disabilities.
In 1998 the first Vinland LivingWorks Lodge—a permanent, community-based residence for chemically dependent people with cognitive disabilities—opened in the Twin Cities in collaboration with Tasks Unlimited, a nonprofit provider of housing and employment services for people with disabilities.
In 2005 Vinland began offering chemical health services to clients of Courage Center Golden Valley’s Transitional Rehabilitation and Pain Management Programs. The following year Vinland began offering outpatient chemical health services at Courage Center Golden Valley. This location has allowed Vinland to serve clients with varying levels of chemical dependency issues who need the convenience of a metro location so they can fulfill their work, family and life obligations.
Vinland is dedicated to treating the whole person— mind, body and spirit. Vinland also provides a therapeutic exercise program, psychology and psychiatry services, family programming, traumatic brain injury groups, mindfulness-based stress reduction, recreation activities, and basic computer training.
Demand for the chemical health program increases every year. Currently the growth of the program is hindered by space constraints. Vinland has plans for a building expansion project that will increase capacity from 41 beds to 100 beds. The expansion will also provide a new fitness center, more group meeting spaces, new dining and kitchen facility, and new common areas. For more information about the expansion project, visit www.vinlandcenter.org/campusexpansion.