Ho‘omau Ke Ola, or HKO, is a Hawaii nonprofit, located in Wai‘anae, Oahu. Its culture-based treatment program provides residential and outpatient services to Native Hawaiians, the homeless and others who are struggling with substance abuse. Its mission is to promote healing by integrating Hawaiian spiritual values and return healthy clients back to their families.
Accommodations and Food
Privacy is crucial to HKO. The exact location of the facilities is so secret that clients are even escorted off-site to see visitors. Residential treatment is gender-specific, providing housing for eight men and eight women in separate but neighboring facilities. All rooms have two to three people, depending on the census, and each house has two full bathrooms. Clients sleep in twin beds and share dressers and closets. There is a dining room, kitchen and TV room in each of the houses.
For meals, HKO provides the groceries and the residents learn meal preparation under staff supervision. Men and women alternate cooking; one week the women do all the cooking and bring food to the men’s house and the following week it is the men’s turn. Certain dietary restrictions may be accommodated, since residents have a hand in meal prep. This is a non-smoking facility. Smokers are encouraged to try Nicorette gum or the patch.
Like many treatment facilities, cell phones and electronic devices are not permitted, though residents are granted Internet privileges after 30 days in order to look for work. Monitored phone calls can also be made after 30 days, from the house manager’s office.
Treatment and Staff
The duration of treatment at HKO is 60 days, and clients must be fully detoxed prior to admission. Those with co-occurring disorders and chronic health issues cannot be admitted, as this is not a medical program. Each day begins with a 6 am wake up for breakfast at 7. The daily schedule consists of individual and group therapy, skill-building exercises, psycho-educational classes, social services, client advocacy and support, casework, culturally appropriate self-help group experiences and employment counseling and training.
Hoʻomau Ke Ola means “to perpetuate life as it was meant to be” and treatment at HKO is a combination of evidence-based practices like CBT, the 12-steps and largely Hawaiian cultural practices. The organization believes that healing from addiction involves reconnecting to universal Hawaiian values and that strength and support can be found in a peer or ohana group. Two nights per week, residents attend outside AA or NA meetings and all other evenings are dedicated to cultural groups and studies. Visiting is permitted after two weeks.
Each house has a house manager who resides onsite and CASACs facilitate all groups, for a client-to-staff ratio of five-to-one.
HKO also offers Intensive Outpatient (IOP) and outpatient services; the duration for each is six months. Outpatient treatment is a combination of Hawaiian cultural studies and practices, the 12-steps and CBT. Gender-specific groups are part of the curriculum. IOP clients meet three times per week for a total of nine hours and regular outpatient clients meet twice a week for a total of four hours. Individual therapy is once a week for IOP clients and once a month for outpatient. Group size ranges from eight to 12 people and a licensed substance abuse counselor facilitates all groups.
Native Hawaiian traditions are taught to clients using various activities. Clients learn Mo`olelo, or storytelling: Hawaii’s legends and history are used to engage those who have been reluctant to share their own history and pain. Hula, another form of storytelling and expression, offers similar opportunities for discovery and healing. Malama Aina, caring for and nurturing of the land, allows one to engage in and experience what a reciprocal and sustainable relationship offers.
If connecting with a Higher Power is a key component to getting sober, Hoomau Ke Ola provides its clients with a connection to each other and the world around them. It would be difficult not to stay clean in such an environment. Cultural traditions, the 12 steps and proven therapeutic concepts—HKO offers all three as tools for permanent abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
Ho’omau Ke Ola (mailing address)
85-761 Farrington Hwy #206
Wai’anae, HI 96792
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