An unassuming house in a neighborhood on First Street hums with the mission of those within: To provide Galveston and Brazoria counties’ women who lack financial resources with residential treatment for substance dependence, at no cost to the women.

The women at the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Center for Women, known as ADA House, engage in 30 hours weekly of group sessions along with individual counseling, occupational therapy, 12-Step meetings, and service activities in the community. As part of their treatment plans, they complete individualized assignments designed to lead them toward recovery. After treatment, 70 percent to 75 percent of the graduates of ADA House report that their lives are good or better. Many return on Friday evenings to share success stories and words of encouragement.

More than 4,000 women have received treatment through ADA. These women are wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters. They’re young — and not so young. Some face complications such as a co-existing mental illness, HIV positive status, or Hepatitis C. Many have experienced domestic violence. In one recent year, 60 percent to 64 percent of them were homeless when they arrived at the house.

Three women shared with me what ADA House means to them. Each said that ADA is first and foremost a home. “We have structure and discipline here,” one woman said. “We are here because we want to be. We choose to be. And we each face our private demons. We must deal with the deeper issues that led to our addiction, and we get a lot of help in doing that.”

All three women spoke animatedly of the healing that occurs as they build skills, return to school, secure jobs, create support groups for sobriety, find satisfying ways to use their time, and “learn coping strategies that we never had.” All three spoke of a community atmosphere. They talked about the chores for which they’re accountable, the support of women who understand them, the groups in which they tackle personal issues, and the palpable fellowship among clients and staff.

“There’s lots of love here,” one woman said. Another said, “I feel comfortable here. I feel safe. I can be honest because I feel trust, and I’ve never felt that before.”

One of the women said, “Before coming to ADA House, many of us were existing, but not living life. Our addictions took up all of our time. There was no room for friends, for family, for intimacy, for doing good works, for jogging, or going to the beach.” Another said, “The counselors here help you to help yourself. I have really opened up. And I am dealing daily with feelings of deep shame and guilt. I still have a lot of work to do.”

Each of these women hopes to give back to ADA House. They all know that their best gift will be daily success. I have deep respect for the work that these women do. It’s heartening to see hope growing strong in this modest house. Let’s be good neighbors and help to nurture that hope.

Suzanne M. Peloquin is a professor emeritus and occupational therapist at the School of Health Professions at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

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