Santa Monica House, opened in 1972, provides inpatient treatment to women suffering from substance abuse. Despite its name, this facility has nothing do to with Southern California—it is located in an old Victorian house in Omaha, Nebraska. Santa Monica House was started with a $10,000 grant from John Kenefick, who at the time was the president of Union Pacific Railroad and was named after Saint Monica, the patron saint of alcoholics, victims of abuse and mothers. Santa Monica House is not affiliated with any religious groups—the name was chosen because Saint Monica is said to have struggled with alcohol herself.
Accommodations and Food
Santa Monica House has a comfortable atmosphere and all the amenities of home to benefit the women who live there. Up to 18 women can live in the house at a time, each with a roommate whenever possible to avert isolation.
The house has nine bedrooms, each of which holds two women. Bedrooms come with twin beds, two night stands, dressers and closets. Clients are invited to bring pictures and posters to hang on the walls to make their rooms more homey, as long as the posters don’t depict violence, alcohol or mind-altering substances. Five bathrooms are available for residents to share. Each is equipped with toilets, sinks and showers.
Santa Monica House doesn’t have a media room or business center. Instead, a laptop is made available to the women when they need to create resumés or fill out online job applications. House rules don’t allow clients to bring any electronics with them, including their own computers or cell phones. There is a house phone available for residents to use, but they must wait until after the day’s programming has ended at 3 pm. The phone can be made available at other times for women who need to schedule job interviews. Clients are allowed to watch TV in their free time, though this is limited to short periods in the evenings.
There is no pool or on-site gym at Santa Monica House. Instead, residents can use workout DVDs and, when weather permits, walk or jog in a nearby park.
The women share cooking duties and, as a result, meals can vary widely. For one week, residents may enjoy healthy Chinese or Italian meals, while the next week could be mostly American and Mexican cuisine. Except for the requirement that all meals be healthy and balanced, the women can choose what they prepare. Caffeine is allowed, as is sugar in limited quantities. Clients can also bake cakes and cookies for special occasions, such as when residents graduate from the program.
Treatment and Staff
DBT is the main method used to help clients learn to change how they think about substance abuse. The clinicians use the Matrix Model, Beyond Trauma and Women’s Integrated Treatment (WIT), which specifically address trauma-based addiction issues particular to women in recovery. The program at Santa Monica House is 12-step based and every client is expected to attend six meetings a week outside the house. Staff can make an exception to this rule for those with jobs. Residents are also expected to obtain a sponsor as a part of completing their step work.
Women at Santa Monica House are expected to stay at least six months, though at least one year is preferable. During treatment, residents participate in a minimum of one session of individual therapy per week (with more available when necessary). Women who haven’t found jobs outside the house participate in at least 30 hours of weekly group therapy. Those with jobs attend groups in the evening, which adds up to about 10 hours weekly.
Santa Monica House doesn’t have a doctor on staff or on contract. Staff can take women who need basic medical care to one of Omaha’s clinics. Detox services are also not available but dual diagnosis support is provided for women who have been diagnosed with co-occurring disorders.
Two clinical staff members, a man and a woman, provide therapeutic support to the residents. The staff to client ratio is one-to-nine (under Nebraska law, facilities must keep their ratio to less than one-to-12). Both clinicians have LADC credentials. Additionally, there are therapeutic mentors available to the women 24/7 to provide one-on-one support.
A typical day begins at 8 am (or earlier, for the employed). At 8:30 am, the women begin the first group session. When the morning’s groups are over, they break to complete assigned chores and have lunch before returning to group sessions in the afternoon.
Programming ends at 3 pm every afternoon with dinner scheduled at 5:30 pm. Programming generally resumes at 6:30 pm and all groups conclude by 8:30 pm so clients can finish chores and take medications. Meditation is at 9 pm, with every woman expected to be in her room by 10 pm. Lights out is at 10:30 pm every evening.
A family program called Family Education is available every other Sunday, consisting of educational programming to teach family members about substance abuse, addiction and how to help in recovery without enabling. Once the session ends, families can visit with residents.
Aftercare is provided to alumni who successfully graduate from the program and consists of classes on relapse triggers, prevention and how to stay sober. Residents take part for six months, every Monday evening. Program alumni can also join the alumni association and meet for monthly functions as well as fundraisers.
The causes of addiction in women can be different from those of male addicts. Knowing this, the staff of Santa Monica House work to provide therapeutic services that help residents to move past trauma and begin living productive, substance-free lives. For those looking for an affordable way to transition back into daily life, Santa Monica House is a good choice.
Santa Monica House
130 N 39th St
Omaha, NE 68131
Santa Monica House Cost: $420 (30 days, $105 a week). Reach Santa Monica House at (402) 558-7088.
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