“I think there's a general lack of self-care for women,” explained program coordinator Kerri Lynne-Black. “They put their children first, they put their spouses first, they take care of a home.”
At its offices in Richmond Hill and Greenpoint, Outreach's “trauma-informed care” program features a diverse staff that specializes in marriage and family therapy for women that suffer from both substance abuse and mental health issues.
Beginning with a brief phone assessment, specialists at Outreach determine appropriate treatment through a six to nine-month program. Specifics include a relapse-prevention plan, job training and placement, stabilizing housing and psychiatric services.
“We set up all the services for them within the community so that they don't just run through this for six to nine months and have no one's hand to hold,” Lynne-Black said.
Outreach also offer services for women who have a family member that's battling addiction problems.
“We offer that support,” Lynne-Black said. “How to parent around the addiction, how to work with the rest of the family, set up structure in the home.”
Most of the women in the program are seeking help on the own, while the rest come through court requirement or are referred by the Administration for Children's Services (ACS)
Two women that have benefitted greatly from the program are Maria and Noreen, whose last names are being withheld. They both talked about their personal struggles and how much having a women-specific program helped.
Maria said she's been addicted to drugs for several years, and was clean for about a year before relapsing. After having an ACS case opened because of her children, she entered into the program at Outreach last August.
“They recommended I come to an outpatient program, so I picked this one because it has the women's services,” she said. “Just to get everything off of my chest, everything that was built up inside while meeting with my therapist Ana once a week was very helpful. We went over a lot of things that could prevent me from using again.”
Maria explained that meeting other women that were in the same predicament as her made treatment easier.
“I heard other women's stories that were very similar to what I was going through,” she said. “And just being around women in the same predicament made it easier for me to share my stories and share the things that were bothering me.”
Some of the other services Outreach offers, like babysitting, were also a big help to Maria.
She also offered advice for any other women in the same situation that she was back in August.
“They've got to want it for themselves,” she said. “They really want to have to change their lives in order for the program to take effect.”
Noreen is in the program for a different reason. Her son has been struggling with drug addiction and a friend recommended Outreach, which she credits Outreach with saving her family.
“It's an ongoing battle right now, but we have sanity and a little bit of direction about where we're going and where we can end up,” she said.
Noreen's son has been going through a rehabilitation program at Outreach on and off, but even when he stopped going, she and her younger son continued to go for support.
“We can't change what my son chooses to do, but we can learn how to move forward with our lives,” Noreen said.
She said the program taught her that she needs to learn how to say no to her son.
“It came to a point where we had to say to him, 'you had to move out,'” she said. “I didn't think I could ever do that.”