START Program (Short Term Adolescent Residential Treatment)

The START Program is an all-female, sixteen-bed residential drug rehabilitation program located in Fayette County, serving clients ages 13 through 18. The program is operated under the auspices of the Northwest Alabama Mental Health Center and certified through the Alabama Department of Mental Health as an ASAM Level III.5 crisis residential adolescent treatment program.
Consumers live in a supervised treatment home setting where responsibility for self is emphasized in a structured environment. Each consumer participates in all aspects of the program, and is empowered to complete all aspects of the program including participation in group and individual therapy, written clinical assignments, activity therapy, basic living skills, and negotiation of a continuing care plan to facilitate ongoing outpatient services upon returning home. START provides a mix of clinical services including individual, group, and family therapy, drug education, didactic groups, basic living skills, case management, written assignments, and recreation. Ongoing academic education is provided by an on-site teacher that meets all requirements for the educational contract with the Alabama Department of Education. All consumers are referred for aftercare services upon completion of residential care. The length of stay is approximately 60 days—dependent of progress of the negotiated individualized treatment plan. Download a Brochure

Education Services

START provides educational services on site with an teaching staff meeting the criteria delineated by the Alabama Department of Education. The consumers are enrolled in this special school setting affiliated through contracting with the State Department of Education. The teacher provides supervision of coursework that is provided from the school of original or grade-appropriate assignments if current assignments are not provided by the school. GED prep, ACT prep, and college preparation education are also offered as needed. Report cards are forwarded to the school of origin upon discharge from the START program.

Referral Sources

Referrals are accepted from any service providers, juvenile courts, court referral programs, the Department of Human Resources, schools, parents, relatives, physicians, or others when consumers meet the criteria of having a substance use issue identified. To make a referral, a full clinical assessment is required (Alabama Department of Mental Health approved form required). Additional requirements prior to admission include a physical examination which includes a TB screen, STD screen, and pregnancy testing. Download a physical exam form.


Each consumer is responsible for her own personal items needed at the program. All medical costs related to physical issues, including medication, are the responsibility of the consumer or her family, as well as the cost of any damage to START property.


  • Must be willing to participate in treatment program.
  • Primary diagnosis of substance use disorder.
  • Be age appropriate (13 through 18 years old).
  • Alabama resident.
  • Social Security number.
  • Picture ID of client or parent/guardian
  • Ability to maintain in a supervised structured living environment.
  • Physically able to participate. Medical issues should be addressed before admission.
  • Medications must be approved prior to admission.
  • Must not be in the first or third trimester of pregnancy.
  • No acute suicidal or homicidal ideations.
  • START does not discriminate on the basis of race or religion.

Items to Bring to Treatment

Each client should bring the items identified on the Personal Items Checklist to the START Program.  These are the items that are allowed and any other items will be returned to the family.  To download the checklist Click Here

Items Needed To Make A Referral

  • Psychosocial Assessment (may be completed on site if not available in home location)
  • Recent physical, TB, STD, and pregnancy test (Download physical form)
  • List of all medications and reasons for medications
  • Name and number of contact person

Family Information