Free At Last was founded in 1993 by a small group of East Palo Alto, California residents amid an epidemic of drug-related violence and a high incidence of HIV infection in the Silicon Valley community. The goal was to reduce addiction and stop the spread of HIV with an emphasis on long-term substance abuse treatment, intervention and prevention services serving those affected by incarceration, HIV/AIDS and intergenerational addiction.
Accommodations and Food
The residential program offers gender-specific accommodations, housing a maximum of 20 men and women in different homes. Mothers are allowed to live in the women’s home with their children during treatment. The homes provide safe and nurturing environments, with rooms shared between two and three clients, a living room, dining room, fully-stocked kitchen and television. Clients meet in the main facility for all therapy, group work and recreation; transportation is provided.
Residents take turns preparing the house meals, voting on menu options each week. Staff members pitch in when needed, as the kitchen can be unfamiliar to some of the group. This responsibility teaches clients how to live on their own during and after treatment.
Treatment and Staff
The seven- to nine-month residential program allows clients to heal in a sober environment, working through emotional issues as they gain the necessary life skills needed for the outside world. Clients participate in group therapy, individual therapy, recreation, life skills and 12-step recovery. During their stay, topics such as relapse prevention, anger management, communication, family dynamics, legal issues, conflict resolution, parenting, employment and trauma are addressed. AA/NA meetings are offered several times a week, providing clients with a solid structure for long-term recovery.
Once residents have spent a certain amount of time in the program, they must begin a job search or job training. The goal of the program is to teach self-sufficiency, encouraging financial independence down the line. In order to graduate from the program, clients must complete treatment goals, secure housing and have a job or be enrolled in job training.
Free At Last also offers an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), which lasts six to eight months for a few hours each day and follows a similar daily schedule as residential treatment, focusing on group therapy, individual therapy, education and 12-step meetings.
Transitional care is another option for residents who have completed the residential program, allowing them to establish stable employment, credit and tenancy history as they continue with recovery.
Free At Last staff includes case managers and substance abuse counselors. Five staff members are HIV positive, making them particularly sensitive to the needs of clients who are also HIV positive. Clients who have completed two years in recovery are eligible to apply for an apprentice position on staff.
Recreation is limited, although weekly group fitness activities are arranged. A small weight room is located in the main facility, allowing clients to get in a bit of exercise during the day. Walks can also be taken outside, providing fresh air or a cigarette break for smokers.
Free At Last provides treatment for those whose options have become severely limited due to drugs and alcohol. With its long-term residential, outpatient and aftercare programs, clients can be fully supported as they venture into a life of sobriety.
Free At Last
1796 Bay Rd
East Palo Alto, CA 94303
Free At Last Cost: Free (7-9 months). Reach Free At Last by phone at (415) 656-1700. Find Free At Last on Facebook
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