In 1967, Dr. Judianne Densen Gerber founded Odyssey House in New York City. Gerber, who worked as a psychiatrist at New York’s Metropolitan Hospital wasn’t thrilled with the use of methadone as the primary choice of treatment for opiate addiction and advocated a drug-free approach instead. Since then, Odyssey House has grown into a social services agency providing a plethora of substance abuse programs, including the family re-entry program which is a sober living house in the Bronx, as well as housing for homeless clients and for those suffering from severe mental health disorders.
Accommodations and Amenities
The brick-red apartment complex on Clinton Avenue in the Bronx has 57 residents including parents and their children. Furnished two-bedroom apartments include bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom. Often, there are single mothers along with their young children living there, typically with the moms in transitional care or undergoing outpatient treatment. Residents on public assistance obtain food stamp benefits and purchase food using their EBT cards.
Rules and Regulations
For program admittance, residents attend an intake interview and bring necessary documentation that includes birth certificate, government issued photo ID and government assistance benefit cards. Once accepted, residents receive individualized treatment plans, depending on level of care.
An on-site manager supervises the community residence. Those who live in Odyssey House have access to all the organization’s programs and are required to participate in substance abuse education and counseling. The average length of stay is between six and nine months and aimed at helping clients become self sufficient. Transitional care includes outpatient services at a Bronx clinic, primary medical care, health education, parenting skills training, GED training and testing, dental care, vocational support and job placement. Curfews vary, depending on clients’ schedules.
Odyssey House uses evidence-based modalities, specifically CBT and MET. Outpatient treatment includes group therapy, psychiatric care (when appropriate) and individual therapy. Group topics include trauma, recovery and empowerment, anger management, domestic violence and relapse prevention. Clients requiring dual diagnosis support receive individual therapy with a psychiatrist and medication management.
Odyssey House offers a nurturing parent program for families, as well as licensed day care for children, while their mother or parents are in treatment. Children also receive pediatric services.
Odyssey House has other housing facilities including Odyssey House Haven, the 50-unit Park Avenue House, the 65-unit Tinton Avenue building for single adults and the 56-unit Soundview House. These apartment complexes are typically located in the Bronx and offer permanent housing for homeless clients and for low-income individuals with severe mental illnesses and special needs.
As a large urban social services agency, Odyssey House does its best to provide sober living and transitional care to financially challenged clients and their families. Based on the mission of the founder, this is not a great fit for those who require Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opiate addiction. This is also not the place for those who need luxurious amenities or intensive treatment, but clients will find a supportive environment that can provide them with the tools to rebuild their lives and take care of themselves and their families.
Odyssey House Admissions
219 East 121st St
New York, NY 10035
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