Tucked away at the base of the beautiful Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara’s Casa Serena is the city’s only state-licensed, non-denominational alcohol and drug abuse treatment facility catering to women with children. Founded in 1959 by a recovering alcoholic named Mildred Pinheiro, who recognized the need for a safe haven for women struggling with alcohol abuse. More than 50 years later, Casa Serena is Santa Barbara’s oldest rehab for women. The facility boasts a diverse community from all walks of life, and is an intimate, three-phase retreat comprised of three secluded homes offering sanctuary and sisterly help towards a life of sobriety. It remains the only haven in Santa Barbara for recovering mothers to reunite and rebuild their lives with their children.
Accommodations and Food
Casa Serena’s treatment is based on a social model, not a medical model, and as a result the facilities are not run by a medical staff but by staff therapists and volunteers from the addiction community. Detox is not available, and those living in Santa Barbara County in need of a medical detox are advised to do so before enrolling.
There are three facilities at Casa Serena, all unified by tranquil, garden-settings where recovery is nurtured by fresh air, sun-soaked quiet and a spirit of solidarity and friendship. The Main House, which can host 18 clients, is comprised of shared rooms (two or three beds per room) and has a shared country-style kitchen where meals are served three times daily. Residents are welcome to cook their own meals according to their own special dietary needs if necessary.
The Graduation House (“Grad House”) can welcome up to 35 clients, and Oliver House occupies up to six women and six children. Friends and family are welcome visitors, and may join residents for dinner.
Treatment and Staff
The rules here are strict. All inductees must first pass a phone interview and an in-person interview, be sober for 24 hours prior to admittance and commit to a 90-day program within the Main House. In addition to a mandatory 12-step AA recovery group, there is a required two-week recovery counseling period with the goal of preparing residents for re-entry into the outside world.
Three hours of group participation are expected from every resident each day. After the two week counseling period, residents begin to seek employment or nonprofit volunteering positions. Personal attention is lavished upon each client each step of the way on the road to sobriety. Personal counselors are assigned to each resident to address such addiction-related issues as anxiety and depression, and treatment goals are progressively reviewed and re-assessed according to each resident’s progress. Yoga, meditation, career counseling and art therapy are additional nurturing facets of the first phase of rehabilitation.
Upon successful completion of the 90-day program, clients have the option of either leaving the facility or moving to the secondary house, known as the “Grad House,” for a maximum of nine months. The Grad House has a capacity of 35 women, all of whom must be employed or enrolled in school, full-time—at a minimum of 30 hours per week. One-on-one and group therapy, as well as 12-step meetings, are constants of the nine month stay. Oliver House, the third and final phase of rehabilitation available, is a home for recovering mothers to live with their children and is designed to firmly plant mothers on the path to a lifetime of independent, sober living.
With more than 50 years and thousands of success stories to its credit, Casa Serena is a very affordable rehabilitation option for mothers who are ready to take back control of their bodies, spirits and families.
1515 Bath St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
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