Social work alumna founds nonprofit dedicated to addictions prevention

Photo of Hannah Milne

Hannah Milne, BSW ’18, poses for a portrait outside of the Steve Hicks School of Social Work on June 27, 2019. Photo by Montinique Monroe

Hannah Milne, BSW ’18, wasn’t always comfortable sharing her story. But today her story positively impacts adolescents who struggle with substance use and addiction.

“My drug use started off with me being 16 and addicted to crystal meth,” Milne said. “That led me down a pretty dark path.”

Milne began using at 13 years old after being introduced to drugs and alcohol in school. She used while attending school and maintaining decent grades until her use became too extreme. Her grades began to drop, she started running away from home and was involved in frequent car accidents. Her parents knew something was wrong.

“They ended up giving me an ultimatum, they kicked me out of the house and searched everything,” Milne said. “They told me they would either call the cops on me or I could go to treatment. I went to treatment.”

Through treatment Milne participated in an alternative peer group (APG), or a community-based, family-centered, peer-support program filled with activities, counseling and case-management. Milne attributes this model of treatment to her sobriety, which is why she founded Keystone Austin – APG in 2018.

Keystone helps adolescents ages 13-18 and their families recover from harm caused by substance use and addiction. Serving 10-12 families at a time, Keystone hosts weekly peer-led support groups for parents and adolescents for about $800 a month per family. Thanks to fundraising, Keystone fulfills its policy of never turning a family away because of financial concerns.

Keystone’s ultimate goal is to show youth that sobriety can be fun through various activities such as holiday campouts, retreats and trips to places such as Six Flags, Galveston and the Buffalo National River in Arkansas. The high-accountability support group conducts random drug and breathalyzer tests for all teens and discusses concerns and affirmations at the beginning of every meeting. 

“What drives us is our ability to show these kids what support feels like while collaborating with parents on boundary setting and how to create a positive relationship with their teenagers so there’s not a constant battle,” Milne said.

Keystone has reached many milestones from impacting the lives of Austin-area youths to raising about $90,000 at its annual luncheon, but Milne said Keystone is just getting started. She hopes the group can expand to multiple sites across central Texas with a fully operating staff who can provide services to families for free.  

“The idea that families with a lot of money tend to get their kids into treatment and families with not a lot of money end up with their kids in jail is something I want to see change,” Milne said. “If Keystone can be a part of that change that would be a dream come true for me.”

For more information about Keystone Austin or to donate, visit keystoneaustin.org/.

By Montinique Monroe. Posted July 11, 2019.