Nestled along a tree-lined street in historic Walnut Hill, a suburb of Cincinnati, is First Step Home, a residential and outpatient substance abuse facility for adult women. Since 1993, they have also offered special programs for pregnant women and women with children, helping clients to keep their families together while receiving substance abuse treatment.
Accommodations and Food
Residential treatment takes place in a three-story Victorian home with 16 beds. The house has four full bathrooms, a large kitchen, dining room, living room with a TV and three rooms for group therapy. It was also recently remodeled with fresh paint, carpeting and new furniture. Two or three women share a room, depending on the census and how many kids, 12 years and under, are in the house; women without children are also welcome. There are three large rooms with adjoining bathrooms for clients with children. All rooms are furnished with twin beds, shared dressers and closets. Laundry facilities are provided and clients are responsible for keeping their rooms clean.
While staff members are responsible for purchasing food, the residents take turns working in the kitchen to prepare meals. A licensed dietician oversees the preparation and menu planning, paying special attention to child nutrition. Certain dietary requests can be accommodated, but must be discussed at intake. Coffee is offered until noon and snacks of fruit, yogurt, cereal and granola bars are provided during the day.
Treatment and Staff
Women at the First Step Home stay for 30 days or longer. Detox is not provided and potential clients must be clean and sober for a minimum of five days prior to admission.
After breakfast at 7:30 am, clients attend groups from 9 am until 5 pm Monday through Friday, with an hour of free time. Individual therapy is once per week and clients with co-occurring disorders see a psychiatrist twice per month. Counselors at First Step Home use CBT during sessions. Groups topics include addiction studies, relapse prevention, parenting, self-esteem, stress reduction, sexual and emotional trauma therapy, and nutrition education. There are also sessions devoted to vocational studies and addiction in families. Experiential therapy takes place three times a week and activities include yoga, meditation, breathwork and art therapy. 12-step meetings take place on site three nights per week. Aside from a medical or court appointment, clients do not leave the facility for the duration of treatment. Visiting days begin after the first two weeks of treatment, on Saturday and Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm. All visitors must be pre-approved and attend the Tuesday night family program.
Childcare is provided while women are in group. Depending on the age of the kids, either playtime or educational services are facilitated by a licensed childcare provider, with credentialed teachers available for school-aged children.
The treatment team consists of a house monitor who lives on the premises, CSACs, Master’s-level therapists, caseworkers and a psychiatrist. The client-to-staff ratio is six-to-one.
Outpatient services take place next door to the residential facility in the same building as the administrative offices. Treatment can either be used as primary care or as a step-down from the residential program. The most structured level of outpatient care is the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), which meets six times per week, for two hours at a time, for a duration of six months. Individual therapy is once per week and dual diagnosis clients meet with a psychiatrist once per month for medication management. Group topics are similar in scope to the residential program. Regular outpatient is also six months in duration but only meets three days a week for two hours each session. Childcare services are provided for both levels of care.
First Step Home provides its residential clients with yoga, meditation, breathwork and art therapy. In addition, Mind and Body Connection is offered once a week, catering to pregnant women, but all are welcome. This program uses pre-natal yoga, meditation, breathing techniques and guided imagery to create a calm and nurturing environment for each woman and her unborn child.
Tuesday night is family night. All families meet in one large group for a 60-minute educational presentation about addiction and family dynamics. After a 30-minute dinner break, clients and their families have time for visiting until 7:30 pm.
Located down the street from the residential facility are three large houses converted into apartments that First Step Home offers as transitional living spaces. Each house holds four families. Women who take advantage of this option are expected to find work within three days and are completely responsible for grocery shopping and food preparation. Unless they are working, they attend groups at the main house and are expected to attend community 12-step meetings. Length of stay in transitional care is anywhere from 90 days to six months.
Since its inception, First Step Home has served over 2,900 women and 1,800 children. Along with substance abuse treatment, its clients get life skills training, parenting classes, financial counseling and access to case management services for their children. Keeping families together during treatment can be the difference between a sober mother and a foster home. Services at First Step Home are also available through Medicaid for Ohio residents.
First Step Home
2203 Fulton Ave
Cincinnati, OH 44206
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