In 1948, a Cleveland priest named Father Otis Winchester recognized a need to treat the various homeless men he encountered who suffered from alcoholism. As a result, he and seven members of a burgeoning AA chapter founded Stella Maris.
Nowadays, Stella Maris (which translates to “Star of the Sea”) has broadened its spectrum of offerings. The Cleveland institution offers detox for both sexes, residential treatment for men and a variety of outpatient services. Though it could once only accommodate 11 clients, now up to 38 men can be housed at the residential facility at any given time (in addition to the 16 beds in the co-ed medical detoxification unit).
While its breadth has increased, Stella Maris stays true to its roots by continuing to help the downtrodden of Cleveland. In fact, most of its residents hail from the criminal justice system, the Veterans Administration or simply the streets (as homeless walk-ins).
In terms of pricing, Stella Maris charges $2,100 out of pocket for the detox program; however, the facility does accept insurance, and for those without insurance or funds, the fee may be waived entirely. Subsequent residential and outpatient treatment costs nothing, thanks to the myriad donations Stella Maris receives.
Accommodations and Food
Stella Maris is comprised of three buildings: one for medical detox, one for residential treatment and one—the Gallagher Center—that serves as a “community recovery center.” The latter hosts many of the outpatient services, including 12-step meetings and family therapy.
There are a coffee shop and amphitheater on site. Stella Maris wants clients to focus solely on recovery, and thus creature comforts such as email, computer access and cell phones are not allowed. Contact with the outside world is severely limited, with residents granted email access only after 30 days in the program.
As for leisure activities and amenities, the options are limited—contacting the facility to ask about entertainment options such as TV or movies elicited an incredulous chuckle from the staff. Instead, life in Stella Maris revolves around the popular Therapeutic Community (or TC) approach, which has residents taking on the upkeep of living spaces and other assorted chores.
Treatment and Staff
Stella Maris has a rigorous sub-acute detoxification treatment program, accredited by the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services as well as the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. This intensive treatment is staffed 24 hours a day by licensed nurses and supervised by at least one physician. Clients receive medications, and lab services monitor their progress.
Stella Maris offers detox, residential treatment or a mixture of both (although, again, the facility accommodates women for detox services only). Those seeking detox undergo a physical from the staff doctor upon arrival before moving on to individual and group counseling sessions. The process takes anywhere between three and seven days.
Clients in the Stella Maris residential program rise and shine at 5:30 am (except on weekends) and spend most of their days in group sessions, individual therapy, vocational training, lectures and classes for job readiness skills. Leading the charge is a staff comprised of LSWs and counselors (though notably no psychiatrists or psychologists).
Nevertheless, most residents take between three to six months to complete the program, and are discharged only if they find sober housing and a job. For the most part though, alumni seem pleased with the results.
As previously mentioned, The Gallagher Center does feature a few bonus amenities. The structure houses an amphitheater for lectures and events, and a coffee shop provides a comfortable environment where newly sober alumni can interface with those going through rehab.
Stella Maris is serious, no-frills rehab with clientele that tend to hew more rough than pampered. Amenities are light, but after 65 years this hardly seems to be a limiting factor in the facility’s success. Detox is swift, residential treatment lengthy and outpatient services abundant.
1320 Washington Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
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