Founded in 1951 by Bea Jorgensen, Friendly House was the first recovery home solely for women in Los Angeles, California. Today, Jorgensen’s dream lives on at the sober living home through famed sobriety icon Ms. Peggy Albrecht, who leads women at Friendly House to a life of success and sobriety.
Accommodations and Amenities
Friendly House has two locations, one in Los Angeles and one near Culver City; both sites operate out of renovated homes (with recent and gorgeous renovations to the former). The Culver City home has three large sleeping quarters whereas the LA house has four—one notable difference is that Culver City’s house has one private room (with its own bathroom) which costs an extra $1000 a month. Residents are housed two ladies to a room at Culver City and three to a room at the LA house. Beds are all twin-sized at both locations, and each house also shares two community bathrooms.
An added bonus is that neither home is overcrowded—the LA house hosts 12 residents at a time maximum while the Culver City house can fit 11. Both locations have a television room. Viewing times are after 4 pm and in the evenings—one-and-a-half hours for both time slots. Residents cook and prepare their own breakfast and lunch. For dinner, one or two ladies will cook for the entire house (staffers create the menu and buy food from local grocers). Dietary rules aren’t strict here, as sugar and caffeine are allowed at both locations.
Rules and Regulations
While Friendly House is primarily a sober living, it’s somewhat unusual in combining treatment and housing. Its mandatory 30-day program doesn’t operate under a traditional recovery process; women can stay for up to one year. Rather than a group of counselors, each location has a PhD-level psychologist who visits with the women on-site once a week, as a group. Still, Friendly House staffers do meet individually with the women at least once a week, though more time is available if needed.
It’s worth noting that Friendly House requires three days of sobriety upon entering, as it doesn’t offer an on-site detox. Ultimately, this program is halfway between a rehab and a sober living (though it offers no medical treatment). Every Thursday, outside facilitators visit both locations and lead 12-step meetings. In the evenings, residents are transported to off-site NA and AA meetings. All of these meetings are mandatory.
For the first 30 days, clients may not use outside electronics (all devices must be checked in), but after the aforementioned period computers can be used for job hunting purposes only. Further, when using cell phones residents can only make calls while downstairs in the main living area, and all electronics must stay in the house. Visitors are allowed on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 5 pm.
When staying at Friendly House, residents wake at 8 am and eat breakfast until 9 am. Meditation follows until 9:30, when chores are assigned. The first group session is at 10 am and lasts roughly an hour-and-a-half. Lunch falls between noon and 1 pm, followed by another group at 2 pm. Depending on what meetings the ladies attend, everyone sits down to dinner at 5 or 5:30 pm.
After the final meal, clients go to an off-site meeting before returning to do a 10th step. Residents are in bed by 10:30 pm, with lights out at 11 pm. Free time falls within any of the gaps of the above schedule; in terms of fitness, the Culver City location has exercise equipment though the LA house does not. Both houses have female staff members who work different shifts—day, evening, overnight and weekends—with a total of five people at each location. Rather than employing a team solely based on their high credentials, Friendly House prefers to hire women with many years of sobriety to better relate to its residents.
Once a month (sometimes every other month), Friendly House’s alumni club, The Grateful Hearts, uses donated money to take the ladies out. These trips can include the zoo lights, Santa Monica’s Winter Solstice Festival or to local plays. It’s also worth noting that Friendly House boasts some impressive success numbers; compared to hospitals’ 35% average success rate for treating addiction, reportedly 76% of Friendly House’s alums stay sober.
While not strictly a treatment option, also worth noting is the Friendly House Annual Awards Luncheon, an event thrown every year to help raise money for potential clientele and honor noteworthy figures in the world of sobriety. Aside from being a boon to potential customers, the luncheon is a veritable who’s who of the recovery community; past hosts and honorees have included Russell Brand, Tom Arnold and Oscar de la Hoya, among others.
While Friendly House’s two locations don’t have all the essentials like a medical staff or an on-site detox, there’s still definitely a strong, all-female support system available here that spans over 50 years and counting. Further, the program is very affordable (with numerous scholarships available) and set in a desirable location. For those willing to try an unconventional blend of long-term residential treatment and sober living, Friendly House is about the best there is.
347 S. Normandie Ave
LA, CA 90020
3112 Castle Heights Ave
LA, CA 90034
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