In 1994, Alabama Recovery Services responded to a growing need for specialized treatment for women suffering from substance abuse. Olivia’s House was founded in Birmingham, Alabama, and has since provided residential treatment for women and their children, up to the age of 10. Extensive treatment services, including those for children, are provided with the support of state and local government agencies. Outpatient services, including an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), are provided nearby at the Zukoski Center. A self-help group called Women in Recovery also meets at Olivia’s House, and was established to cater to the specific needs of women, and to fill in the gaps found in other programs.
Accommodations and Food
Around 25 women and 30 children are accommodated in a large brick building, however the number of beds varies with the number of children that accompany their mothers. Women without children are housed two to a room, while those with children are accommodated with them in the same room. Clients are required to file for food stamps which Olivia’s House collects to help pay for food. All meals are prepared by staff, and a kid-friendly. There is an outdoor play area for the children, as well as ample opportunity to participate in recreational activities.
Treatment and Staff
Women admitted to Olivia’s House must first meet the assessment criteria for chemical dependency and have at least one child under 10 years of age. Up to three children under 10 are permitted to live with the client during her treatment, which lasts up to 12 months. Children over 10 but under 18 are given referrals for resources for housing and medical care as needed. Children in residential treatment with their moms are provided psychiatric, nutritional, development and education services and have their healthcare needs met by various local public health hospitals and clinics. Children needing specialized care are referred to the appropriate community resources.
Individualized treatment plans are created for the adult clients, which include medical screens, medication management and dual diagnosis support. Individual and group therapy focusing on substance abuse, relationships, domestic violence and parenting are offered daily. Additional groups addressing sexual abuse, spirituality, healthcare and nicotine addiction are also available. Attendance at 12-step meetings is required, and clients are assigned counselors to help meet individual emotional and spiritual needs.
Clients are provided on-site childcare and transportation services to attend adult education, job readiness training, income and housing assistance services. Life skills development, including specialized parenting training, is offered through the length of the program. Women with pending legal matters, or those coming directly from prison, are also provided assistance and resources and support in these areas.
The staff at Olivia’s House consists of doctors, registered nurses, a psychiatrist, therapists, counselors, case managers, daycare nurses and daycare teachers for the children.
The IOP at the Zukoski Center is designed to provide women with continuing care after completing the residential program, or assist women needing a less intensive level of care with effective treatment. Group and individual sessions are available in three-hour long sessions. Three morning and three evening sessions are available, and hour-long individual sessions can be made weekly by appointment. Groups focus on psychoeducation, stress management and relapse prevention. Individual treatment plans are to be completed with the assistance of the client’s case manager, and are designed to help clients maintain full abstinence from drugs and alcohol while living successful lives.
Olivia’s House provides women with young children a wide array of resources and opportunities to establish sobriety. The highly structured treatment plans mean that women are continuously learning new skills and coping strategies, with particular focus on those specific to mothers. Children are not at risk of being neglected, as all their physical, mental and emotional needs are met by a wide variety of community-based resources. All treatment is free and paid for by the state.
8017 2nd Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35206
Olivia’s House Cost: Free (for 30 days). Reach Olivia’s House by phone at (205) 833-5708.
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