HYPER bonds young people in addiction recovery

Nicholas Ohlson‘s addiction to methamphetamine began when he was only 14.

Over the next 10 years, he was in and out of rehab, served jail time, and wound up homeless. Christmas day 2009 became his turning point.

“I ended up completely alone,” said Ohlson, who was living at the Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada’s homeless shelter. “That is what it took. I made recovery the center of my life.”

Now Ohlson is paying it forward.

As president of the UNLV chapter of the student-run organization HYPER, Helping Young People Experience Recovery, Ohlson is dedicated to helping others work toward recovery.

“I’d like to see other students have the same experience I did,” Ohlson said about why he is involved with HYPER. “Having groups like this definitely helps shift the focus on more important things: helping one another; taking time for another person. When I’ve done that, my life is not so impossible.”

HYPER began in 2012 as the brainchild of Mike Fildes. The support-based program exists for 18- to 30-year-olds who are in long-term recovery from addiction. The group follows an open format based loosely on a 12-step program.

At the time of founding the organization, Fildes was a student at UNLV and a part-time employee at the Foundation for Recovery, 4800 Alpine Place, Suite 12, a Las Vegas nonprofit whose goals include “promoting the positive impact of addiction recovery in the community.” The foundation sent Fildes to a national conference on youth recovery in Cleveland with the goal of bringing ideas back to Nevada.

“He came back fired up about what was going on with youth in recovery throughout the country,” said Bob Stewart, the foundation’s outreach manager. “He began to develop an idea, which was the initiative that ended up being called HYPER.”

After developing HYPER’s framework, Fildes spearheaded the first group on the UNLV campus, 4505 S. Maryland Parkway. It was formed in association with a nationwide collegiate recovery movement.

“It was really nice to find out that there was a recovery group on campus at UNLV,” said Kendall Lyons, HYPER treasurer/secretary. “I am reminded that I never have to be alone again.”

In concurrence with the UNLV group, the foundation developed a community HYPER group that welcomes youths who have entered recovery and are not currently attending higher education.

“When you enter into recovery, you change so many things about yourself,” said Alexandra McCurdy, foundation program coordinator. McCurdy oversees the HYPER program. “It can be really hard to meet people who are on the straight and narrow path that you’re trying to go on, so HYPER is a safe haven to meet people.”

Currently, the foundation’s HYPER group meets once a month for a sober night out to the movies.

“We would love to have it expand,” McCurdy said. “My vision is the more people that know about it can make it something of their own — start meetings, have events and social gatherings.”

The foundation is also working on developing groups on all three campuses of the College of Southern Nevada. McCurdy anticipates groups starting in the spring.

At UNLV, an average of six students gather weekly at the university’s Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Besides the weekly meeting, Ohlson, who hopes to organize more events, said the group participates in campus events, such as suicide prevention walks or sober nights out.

“A lot of times, it’s difficult to put your attention on recovery while going to school,” Ohlson said. “HYPER helps students maintain recovery efforts, so they don’t have to choose between the two.”

At the end of October, UNLV’s HYPER group received its first outside funding support via a check for $38,000 from the nonprofit organization Transforming Youth Recovery, whose mission is to establish youth recovery programs across the country.

“We are working on an operation budget for the first time,” said Ohlson, who’s looking at hiring a full-time assistant for HYPER. “My faculty adviser and I are researching how to use these funds wisely.”

Ohlson hopes to use some of the funding to begin converting HYPER from a student-run organization into an ongoing full-time college program on the UNLV campus.

“One of the obstacles a majority of universities face is the turnover,” Ohlson said about the reason for conversion. “Making it a program would make it more concrete. It wouldn’t be changing hands every year.”

Converting HYPER into a program gives the organization the ability to reach more students through options such as developing a dedicated safe haven with 24-hour access and offering rooms for recovery meetings throughout the week.

“Right now, we just have a recovery meeting,” Ohlson said. “Transforming it from a student body organization into a program is a bridge we are just starting to cross. There are a lot of questions that we’re starting to ask.”

Visit forrecovery.org/hyper.html or call 702-257-8199.

Local Videos
Butterflies At The Springs Preserve
The butterfly habitat is now open at the Springs Preserve. Learn about butterflies and take in the peaceful surroundings. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
The Bellagio Conservatory's spring display has a Japanese theme
The Bellagio's conservatory is hosting around 65,000 flowers, to form a Japanese theme this spring. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bonnie Springs closes (Caroline Brehman/Kimber Laux)
Bonnie Springs Ranch near Las Vegas officially closed its gates Sunday, March 17, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Honoring a fallen North Las Vegas Police officer at his namesake school
The 20th Annual Raul P. Elizondo Honor Day celebrates the fallen North Las Vegas Police officer's legacy at his namesake school. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Windy day in Las Vegas Valley
The Review-Journal's camera on the under-construction Las Vegas Stadium the was buffered by high winds on Wednesday, March 14, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
March gloom falls on Las Vegas
After a rainy overnight, gloomy skies hover over Las Vegas Tuesday morning. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
John Katsilometes gets his head shaved at St. Baldrick's
Las Vegas Review-Journal man-about-town columnist John Katsilometes gets his head shaved by former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman during St. Baldrick's Foundation shave-a-thon on the Brooklyn Bridge at New York-New York in Las Vegas Friday, March 8, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Blue Angels take flight over Las Vegas Strip
The Blue Angels’ U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron flew their signature Delta formation over a part of the Las Vegas Strip, McCarran International Airport and east Las Vegas and were scheduled to fly over Hoover Dam. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Gross World Records
A group of about 20 children gathered around a TV at Sahara West Library on Feb. 27 for a history lesson on the most disgusting world records.
Graduation for Renewing HOPE program
The Renewing HOPE program graduation for homeless who spend nine months in Catholic Charities program. Graduates are preparing to enter the workforce. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Car crashes into Starbucks near Las Vegas Strip
Lt. William Matchko of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police gives details about a car crashing into a Starbucks at Sahara Avenue and Paradise Road, near the Las Vegas Strip, on Friday, March 1, 2019. (Jessica Terrones/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Car crashed into PT’s Gold
A 60-year-old man who police believe was impaired drove into a PT’s Gold at Silverado Ranch and Decatur boulevards Thursday night, Metropolitan Police Department Lt. William Matchko said. The driver was hospitalized and is expected to survive. A man inside the bar was hit by debris but drove himself to the hospital, Matchko said. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Driver crashes vehicle into PT’s tavern in south Las Vegas (part 1)
A driver suspected of impairment crashed a vehicle into the wall of a PT’s Gold tavern, at 4880 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd., in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Driver crashes vehicle into PT’s tavern in south Las Vegas (pullout)
A driver suspected of impairment crashed a vehicle into the wall of a PT’s Gold tavern, at 4880 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd., in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kids Read Books To Dogs At The Animal Foundation In Las Vegas
Kids from local Las Vegas elementary schools took part, Thursday, in a program at the Animal Foundation, where they read books to dogs. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Pioneer Trail highlights historic locations in West Las Vegas
The Pioneer Trail, a 16-site route of historically significant locations in Las Vegas, starts at the Springs Preserve and snakes east until it reaches above the brim of downtown. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutefsya
Vegas Warm Weather Hits Las Vegas Valley
Between Feb. 20-21, parts of the Las Vegas Valley were hit with 7.5" of snow. Less than a week later, it was sunny with temperatures in the 70s. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest at the VA Hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, a World War II Army veteran, was arrested in November after he caused a ruckus at the VA Hospital in North Las Vegas and stole his driver's car keys. He was arraigned on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, and the charges will be dropped after 60 days. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Claytee White talks about Black History Month
An interview with Claytee White, director of the Oral History Research Center at UNLV. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Reflecting on the Moulin Rouge and a segregated Vegas
Former employees of the Moulin Rouge, the first integrated hotel-casino in Nevada, talk about what it was like in the brief six months the casino was open. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas home prices
Home prices rose in every ZIP code in the Las Vegas Valley in 2018 for the second year in a row, according to SalesTraq. Prices grew fastest in older, more centrally located areas. But prices were highest in the suburbs. The top three ZIP codes for price growth were 89119 (29.8%), 89146 (25%) and 89030 (24.6%). The top three ZIP codes for median sales prices were 89138 ($464,500), 89135 ($420,500) and 89052 ($370,000).
Wagonwheel Drive overpass reopens after ice closure
Overpass at Wagonwheel Drive reopens after ice on the onramp caused the ramp to be shut down, Feb. 22, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Keeping warm at the city of Las Vegas’ homeless courtyard
With help from the city of Las Vegas, a Salvation Army shelter stays open during the day Thursday and Friday, offering a safe place for the homeless to find respite from freezing temperatures and snow. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sloppy, Slushy Road Conditions Lead to Slow Traffic
Traffic slowed to a crawl on Jones are near Russell as conditions worsened Thursday. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Winter storm blankets west side of Las Vegas Valley
On Wednesday evening through early Thursday a winter storm dumped more than 7 1/2 inches of snow on some parts of the Las Vegas Valley. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas snow day for children
Las Vegas kids play in the snow that fell on Feb. 21, 2019. (Belinda Englman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow closes Red Rock Canyon, residents enjoy rare snowfall
The greater Las Vegas area was hit with snowfall on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2019. This video shows the areas surrounding Red Rock Canyon and the Summerlin community. Video by: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas kids attend school in the snow
Las Vegas children attend school during a rare snowstorm on Feb. 21, 2019. Staton Elementary School and other CCSD schools remained open. (Glenn Cook/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People enjoying the snow in Summerlin
Fox Hill Park in Summerlin was busy Thursday morning, Feb. 21, 2019, with people enjoying the rare snow that fell overnight. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP advises motorists to take caution during Las Vegas snowstorm
NHP advised motorists to take caution during the snowstorm in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
It is a rainy Valentine's Day in Las Vegas - Video
These scenes come from the Las Vegas Stadium LiveCam (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Home Front Page Footer Listing