A Houston-area institution since 1986, Passages for Women is a small residential facility that keeps its client list small and offers an organic, home-style setting for recovery. All activities stem from the charmingly decorated, 3,700-square-foot home located just outside the city. An institution since 1986, Passages (not to be confused with the Malibu Passages) provides 12-step oriented recovery to women 18 years and older and keeps enrollment low, with no more than 13 residents at a time.
Accommodations and Food
The main Passages residence serves as the center of all recovery activities, with a house manager on-site around-the-clock. While much of the therapy and 12-step work takes place in the building directly behind the house, the home itself is filled with cozy touches that definitely negate any institutional associations. All of Passages’ bedrooms are shared with a roommate, except for their “big room” which sleeps four, and each comes with twin beds and minimal furniture. There are no private bathrooms attached to residents’ rooms, but there are four total throughout the house.
Passages does have a cook on-site who prepares a sit down dinner each night for residents, though everyone is expected to prepare their own breakfast and lunch with access to the house’s freezer and refrigerators, all stocked with food. Breakfast is usually comprised of cereal and bagels, whereas lunch is often leftovers from the night before. Every Sunday, a team of clients will be tasked with cooking dinner for the group.
Treatment and Staff
Recovery work at Passages centers on creating a new daily routine for women and promoting healthy life skills in a structured living environment. As the backbone of treatment, the program follows the 12-step model and offers group therapy and one-on-one counseling along with regular meetings. Clients should be prepared to work, as all are encouraged to find outside jobs or do volunteer work in the neighboring community during their stays; still, Passages helps residents in this process by building their resumes and offering advice during the job search. There are also house management meetings where clients learn how to take care of their shared living space and discuss personal roles and responsibilities.
There’s no medical detox offered at Passages, and as a result all clients should be at least seven days free of drugs or chemicals before their arrival. Passages does work with a local hospital for medical needs, but establishing new medical relationships is not a priority. The staff will provide oral and written reports to physicians, therapists, case managers and administrators in employee assistance programs, and after their time at Passages, alumni are encouraged to return to their original healthcare team for follow-up care. In addition, visits with a psychiatrist can also be arranged as needed, but again, much of the work done at Passages is with the on-site counselors.
The length of each resident’s stay depends on the individual, though they often range from 30 to 120 days, with progress reviewed at 30-, 60- and 90-day intervals. For the most part, Passages believes a 90-day stay is optimal for recovery. Finally, while there are guidelines governing the visitors policy at Passages, clients can count on inviting relatives or loved ones to group dinner each Friday night.
While Passages does boast a proximity to Houston, it actually keeps things mostly on-site when it comes to recreation. With the exception of two off-site 12-step meetings each week, residents spend much of their free time on the grounds. A visiting dance therapist visits campus once a week, and there are house bikes clients can use as well as a basketball hoop. Those looking for a more structured workout can join the local 24-Fitness, though this is extra. In keeping with the folksy atmosphere of Passages, many women spend recreation time playing board games or working on arts and crafts projects.
Women arriving at Passages’ gates should be ready to work. From house management to dinner duty, Passages puts high priority on encouraging women to enact their own recovery. For those who count gym access and daily workouts as essential, Passages may not be a good fit. But for women ready to do the heavy lifting of turning their life around in a cozy home environment, Passages could be ideal.
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