Founded by a member of the recovery community in 1973, Van Ness Recovery House opened its doors in the heart of Hollywood as a safe haven for the LGBT community, though it welcomes anyone who’s in need of residential substance abuse services. Long-time director Kathy Watt leads the charge toward a better life right down the street from the Hollywood sign.
Accommodations and Food
Van Ness Recovery House is just that—a giant, brown house providing shelter to those looking for sobriety. This coed 20-bed home embraces family living with in-house treatment. Before entry, residents are asked to bring only a week’s worth of clothing; they do their own laundry and chores in the house. There are a total of four sleeping quarters—each with its own name (like Betty Ford and Madonna). Rooms are modestly furnished with single beds for three to six people and there are two bathrooms both up and downstairs.
For down time, residents swim in the outdoor pool and take long walks around the block. Van Ness Recovery House also has a media room and a big-screen TV. During the week, viewing times are between 4 pm and 5:30 pm—if all chores and assignments are completed. On weekends, residents can watch TV after chores and classes.
Balanced meals are important here; menu items include sandwiches, fresh fruits and vegetables. Many clients are HIV-positive, have allergies or need special diets—so meals are custom-catered. While sugar is allowed, Van Ness Recovery House monitors the intake of sweets. Caffeine is limited to one cup of coffee per meeting.
Treatment and Staff
Van Ness Recovery House expects a four- to six-month commitment from its clients and treatment is primarily 12-step in orientation. On-site meetings are held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8:30 am and Fridays and Saturdays at noon. Off-site meetings are on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays—transportation is provided. Daily meetings are mandatory and clients are assigned to sponsors to take them through the steps. Residents are also required to make daily calls to their sponsors and sober community.
In addition, licensed therapists administer CBT, DBT and dual diagnosis support, though this facility is not medically equipped—there are no detox services and clients are referred out for medical care and prescriptions. Clients participate in daily group and individual therapy three or more times per week. Should clients need additional treatment, like EMDR, Van Ness Recovery House works with City of Los Angeles clinics on a sliding scale.
Through the week, visitation occurs between 4 pm and 5:30 pm, while Saturday slots are between 1 pm and 5:30 pm. Sundays are open to visitors until 5:30 pm. Additionally, on Sundays after their first seven days, residents are permitted to leave the grounds if they’ve earned a pass. Passes are obtained through accruing time at the house and open book tests on 12-step literature.
Van Ness Recovery House has a 6:45 am wake up call. Residents do a morning walk before breakfast at 8 am. Afterward, depending on how productive group therapy is, lunch can be at noon or 2 pm—this meal is basically do-it-yourself; food is laid out buffet style. Residents attend more groups and/or meetings until 4 pm, after which they have free time until dinner at 5:30 pm. Once a week, everyone meets with his or her sponsor. Lights out is between 10:30 and 10:45 pm.
Van Ness Recovery House employs a total of nine people—a staff-to-client ratio of one-to-two. Residents receive treatment from a mixture of highly credentialed professionals and peer advocates. A house mom offers residential support 24/7.
In addition to the outdoor pool and long morning walks, residents enjoy weekly art therapy groups. Extra-curricular outings include shows at the Hollywood Bowl, plays and movies. Clients with longer tenure participate in an on-site class that helps them build their resume as they look for work. They’re also tested on math and reading skills.
Everyone is welcome at Van Ness Recovery House, though they do make clients from the LGBT community and those who are HIV-positive their priority, the goal being to provide treatment to people who might face discrimination elsewhere. Recovery is long term, the client-to-staff ratio is low and treatment is based on proven methods. Getting sober beneath the Hollywood sign could be just the thing for people who are open to 12-step recovery.
Van Ness Recovery House
1919 North Beachwood Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90068
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